big ten

Tony Carr sets Penn State up for Big Ten trilogy

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Tony Carr sets Penn State up for Big Ten trilogy

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- With the game on the line and quite possibly a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Tony Carr didn't hesitate to put Penn State on his back.

Carr scored 25 points and hit two 3-pointers and set up another in the final minutes as the seventh-seeded Nittany Lions made a late rush to hold off Northwestern 65-57 in the second round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

"He was huge down the stretch of the game," fellow guard Shep Garner. "Big play after big play after big play. And that's what he does for this team. He makes big plays on the offensive end. We're kind of used to it at this point. We don't take it for granted, but we're kind of used to it at this point."

Penn State (20-12) broke its school record for a Big Ten Tournament game by hitting 13 three-pointers in snapping a three-game losing streak and setting up a quarterfinal game on Friday against No. 13 and second-seeded Ohio State at Madison Square Garden.

The Nittany Lions, who posted their first 20-win season since 2008-09, beat the Buckeyes twice in the regular season.

Beating banged up Northwestern (15-17) wasn't easy. The Wildcats hung tough most of the game and didn't falter until the end when Penn State scored 13 straight points.

"We defended and rebounded when we had to for most of the game," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "But really at the end, the last four minutes when we went on that run, just everybody really buckled down and got some stops there."

Carr hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:06 to play to give Penn State a 55-54 lead and ignite the game deciding run. He later set up a 3-pointer by Josh Reaves that expanded the lead to 58-54 with 3:03 to go and he followed with his sixth 3-pointer a minute later for a seven-point lead.

"They went to some of their favorite action and just got him in ball screens," Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh said of Carr. "And he obviously knew it was winning time, and he stepped up and got aggressive offensively and was just looking to make plays. To his credit, he did."

Reaves finished with 15 points and Garner had 12.

Dererk Pardon has 14 points and eight rebounds for Northwestern, which finished its season on a seven-game losing streak. It was a major disappointment for the Wildcats who went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time last season and had high hopes coming into this season.

"Although I'm disappointed to lose the game, I'm more disappointed I won't get a chance to coach these guys anymore," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said.

Scottie Lindsey added 12 points for Northwestern before fouling out with 3:15 to play on an offensive foul.

Neither team led by more than four points in the final 15 minutes until Penn State took control late.

McIntosh gave Northwestern its last lead at 54-52 with 4:33 to go with an off-balance jumper from the left baseline.

Carr, who scored 15 points in the first half and was blanked for the opening 13 minutes of the second half, then gave Penn State the lead with one of his high-arcing shots.

The first half ended in a 30-all tie but the most interesting play was a flagrant foul called against Lindsey with 4:47 left in the half and Northwestern ahead 25-19. Carr seemingly had a shot blocked on the offensive end and Lindsey had his shot blocked on the other end.

Carr then came to the bench with his mouth bleeding. The officials reviewed the videotape of his blocked shot and assessed the flagrant.

Big picture
Northwestern: Has to regroup.

Penn State: May need one more win in tournament to nail down an NCAA berth.

Up next
Northwestern: Next season.

Penn State: Faces second-seeded Ohio State in the tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

No. 14 Penn State vs. Rutgers: Help needed, but still much to play for

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No. 14 Penn State vs. Rutgers: Help needed, but still much to play for

No. 14  Penn State looks to snap a two-game losing streak in its homecoming game.

No. 14 Penn State (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) vs. Rutgers (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten)
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, noon, Big Ten Network

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions have dropped their last two, to Ohio State and Michigan State, by a total of four points. PSU continues to have problems running the ball (despite the presence of one of the nation’s finest backs, Saquon Barkley) and rushing the passer. Barkley, who has rushed for 864 yards (5.7 a pop), has managed 107 yards on 35 attempts the last two weeks. And the defense has allowed 728 yards through the air over that span, while recording exactly four sacks. Barkley does lead the Big Ten with 14 touchdowns and is second in the nation in all-purpose yards per game (195.7).

Scouting Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights have won three of their last four, including last week’s 31-24 victory over Maryland. Gus Edwards, who leads RU with 630 rushing yards, caught the go-ahead 23-yard touchdown pass from Gio Rescigno with 7:30 left. Edwards ran for 109 of the Knights’ 239 yards in the game. Despite Rutgers’ improvement, the Knights went 2-10 last year — in Chris Ash’s first year as head coach — there is obviously work to be done. They are last in the Big Ten in total offense (294.4) and passing offense (127.0), and next-to-last in rushing defense (179.6).

History
The Lions lead the all-time series, 25-2, and have won the last 10 meetings. The score last year in snowy Piscataway was 39-0.

Storyline to watch
As always, the focal point is the Lions’ line play. They are again expected to be without offensive tackle Ryan Bates and defensive end Ryan Buchholz, both of whom suffered undisclosed leg injuries two weeks ago against Ohio State.

What’s at stake
PSU can still win the Big Ten East, with help, and if nothing else can qualify for a New Year’s Day bowl.

Prediction

Penn State 35, Rutgers 7

Backup QB Tommy Stevens a do-it-all option for No. 4 Penn State

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Backup QB Tommy Stevens a do-it-all option for No. 4 Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Tommy Stevens will take over as Penn State's starting quarterback eventually. Now, he's helping starter Trace McSorley any way he can. 

No. 4 Penn State's do-it-all backup has emerged as another option in a loaded offense. Stevens has run for, caught and thrown for touchdowns already and could see more opportunities as Penn State looks for more ways to incorporate its big, athletic backup heading into the Big Ten opener at Iowa on Saturday.

"It puts another weapon on the field," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "He's a big, strong, fast guy, and then obviously they have to be concerned about him throwing the ball as well. I think this package will just continue to evolve."

Stevens, who pushed McSorley for the starting job late into training camp last season, offers an intriguing option for an offense already with stars in Mike Gesicki and Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley. 

He can line up like either one or even split out like a traditional wide receiver. Stevens' knowledge of the offense gives him useful intelligence when it comes time to attack a defense from one of a handful of alignments.

Take his first career touchdown catch - which sparked Penn State's 52-0 rout of Georgia State on Saturday - as an example.

Stevens lined up as a tight end would, off the line of scrimmage and to McSorley's left. He slid right at the snap, hauled in a swing pass from McSorley and burst through Georgia State's secondary for an opening 10-yard score. 

Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead dialed up the play early in the week and surprised Stevens with it in practice.

"There weren't a whole lot of times we did it in practice where I actually caught the ball," Stevens said. "So I saw the (strong side linebacker) come off the edge and I was like, `Oh man, I'm actually going to catch the ball here.' So Trace did a good job of evading, giving me a great ball, I caught it and did my best to score."

His best is better than most backups who are usually relegated to holding clipboards and wearing headsets. 

The former Indiana high school standout entered Penn State with sub-4.7 40-yard-dash speed and his long strides coupled with his cutting ability made him a good dual-threat candidate to lead Moorhead's offense. But Stevens, a year behind the junior McSorley, was edged by McSorley's experience. So he immediately tried to find other ways to contribute.

It hasn't taken Moorhead long to work Stevens in. It began last year against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who now have to worry about Stevens even more when they meet on Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium.

Then, Stevens ran five times for 70 yards and added his first career touchdown in the 41-14 win.

Stevens enjoys the possibility that the Hawkeyes are likely preparing to see him on the field in one of many potential formations.

"Coach Moorhead has endless amounts of ideas about getting guys in space," Stevens said. "They've got to spend more time to put this kind of stuff in in practice for us." 

Moorhead doesn't have to change anything for Stevens if Penn State needs its backup to play his natural position. Franklin believes his No. 2 quarterback has a mastery of the offense on par with McSorley's.

Stevens got a chance to show off his quarterbacking skills - and a glimpse of what could be in store after McSorley exhausts his eligibility - on Saturday, too. 

After taking a hard hit on his first snap in relief of McSorley, Stevens threw a dart over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown to Saeed Blacknall. He took another big hit and watched Blacknall's catch from his backside.

Afterward, he sounded like a starting quarterback, making a point to refute the criticism he's heard of Blacknall's slow start. Instead, Stevens credited his big receiver for making the play, even though it was a perfectly thrown ball.

"Tommy shows that ability all the time," safety Marcus Allen said. "He has a second gear he can kick into. It's another dynamic and electrifying player like that on the field. We can put a lot of stress on a D because you don't know what we're going to hit you with."