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Penn State upsets No. 4 Maryland

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Penn State used five double-figure scorers and played consistently hard on both ends of the floor as the Nittany Lions stunned previously-unbeaten No. 4 Maryland with a 76-69 Big Ten win on Tuesday night.

Losing by 30 on the road to Ohio State in their last conference game, Penn State displayed impressive intensity on the defensive end, limited turnovers on the offensive end and received plenty of help for star senior Lamar Stevens when he wasn’t having his best game. For the second straight season, Penn State upset a ranked Maryland team on its home floor as the Nittany Lions proved they’ll be a tough out at home all season.

Penn State (8-2, 1-1) received double-doubles from both Stevens (15 points, 10 rebounds) and big man Mike Watkins (15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) as the duo did a ton of damage on the interior. The Nittany Lions also had double-digit scoring efforts from Myreon Jones (14 points), Izaiah Brockington (14 points) and Myles Dread (10 points). With 19 assists and only eight turnovers, Penn State’s offense did an outstanding job of running clean sets and getting good looks from multiple players.

This is a quality win for the Nittany Lions early in the Big Ten portion of the schedule. It gives an unproven team a major boost of confidence — particularly beating a top-five team on a night where Stevens was only 5-for-13 from the floor. The Ohio State road loss shows Penn State still has a long way to go to be considered any kind of major threat. But Pat Chambers’ team is at least balanced and feisty enough to be a really tough out at home this season. A few more wins like this could put Penn State in the NCAA tournament picture with the kind of schedule they’ll play in the Big Ten this season.

But the major story here is the loss for Maryland. Because the Terps have some concerning trends they need to address.

Early in the season, Maryland (10-1, 1-1) has made a habit of falling behind early. It happened multiple times in an early-season tournament. And it’s now happened in back-to-back Big Ten games against Illinois and Penn State. While Maryland has been able to overcome slow starts all season with talent and comeback wins, a bad start came back to really bite them on Tuesday.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Maryland tried to make second-half runs to stay with Penn State. Ultimately, the Terps were derailed by inconsistent offense, sloppy and careless turnovers (Penn State had 17 points off turnovers in the first half) and an inconsistent effort on the inside.

Maryland’s offense had 20 turnovers to only nine assists for the game as the Terps never seemed to figure out the proper way to run its offense. Alternating between senior Anthony Cowan Jr. (16 points) and sophomore Eric Ayala (15 points) initiating offense, both guards had too many bad passes and unforced errors for a team with Big Ten title aspirations.

It’s very clear that Maryland has the talent to compete with nearly any team in the country. Even on an off night, the Terps made this a one-possession game against a balanced Big Ten team with some veteran players. But Maryland can’t have these kinds of unforced errors if they see themselves making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

That mainly falls on Cowan. A few of his turnovers were stunningly bad for a senior floor leader. Getting stripped 35 feet from the hoop and throwing lazy passes for interceptions and easy layups can’t happen for Cowan. There’s just too much talent on offense for Maryland to be giving away points in close games.

The good news for Maryland is that there is plenty of time to correct some of these mistakes. Cowan can limit the mistakes. The offense will likely play better and more together. But Maryland’s slow starts are a trend to keep an eye on as it has been a factor for them in multiple games this season.

Brevin Pritzl’s hot hand leads No. 19 Wisconsin past Penn State

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MADISON, Wis. — Brevin Pritzl scored 17 points on 5-for-5 shooting, helping No. 19 Wisconsin beat Penn State 61-57 on Saturday.

Pritzl, a reserve for Wisconsin (20-9, 12-6 Big Ten), also went 3 for 4 at the line. His only miss was a free-throw attempt with less than 2 seconds remaining.

Penn State (12-17, 5-13) was held without a field goal for the final eight minutes of the game and scored just five points from the line over that stretch.

But Penn State still had a chance after D’Mitrik Trice missed a long 3-point attempt, giving the ball back to the Nittany Lions with the Badgers clinging to a 59-57 lead with 14 seconds left.

After a timeout, Penn State’s Rasir Bolton tried to throw the ball to Lamar Stevens at the elbow. But Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson tipped it away, and the referees ruled it went off Stevens’ hand. After a review, the ball stayed with Wisconsin.

Nate Reuvers then went 1 for 2 at the line, leaving the door open for the Nittany Lions again. But there was a collision between Bolton and Pritzl near the sideline with less than 2 seconds left. No foul was called, and the referees ruled the ball went off Bolton.

It wasn’t a particularly pretty game offensively for either team. The Nittany Lions shot 35 percent from the field, below their average of nearly 42 percent.

Meanwhile, take away Pritzl, and Wisconsin made just 34 percent of its field-goal attempts.

Ethan Happ scored 14 for the Badgers, while Stevens led Penn State with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin: Coming off a double-overtime loss at Indiana on Tuesday, Wisconsin found a way to grind out a win.

Wednesday’s Things To Know: Big East title undecided, Baylor keeps pace and Penn State continues its surge

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Wednesday night had top-10 teams in action, a win-by-charge and lots of bubble action. The most intriguing result of the night, however, came in the Big East, which remains one of the more interesting races across the country. That’s where we start with what you need to know from around the country:

THE BIG EAST ISN’T MARQUETTE’S YET

Where, or where, to begin with what went down at the Finneran Pavilion on Wednesday night. Is it the redemption story? The out-of-nowhere star turn? What about the upstart falling to the traditional power? Or the conference title race remaining shy of the finish line?

There’s a lot to talk about from Villanova’s 67-61 victory over 10th-ranked Marquette, that much is for sure.

Let’s start with the star-from-nowhere.

Jermaine Samuels, a sophomore from Franklin, Mass., absolutely went bonkers. Nuts. Crazy. Insane. Wild. Coocoo. Twenty-nine points on 10 of 19 shooting with nine rebounds is a great night regardless of context, but it’s the circumstances that makes Samuels’ night so compelling. Not only was it a monster game for Villanova (we’ll get to that), but Samuels basically had been invisible lately for the Wildcats. He scored exactly zero points in the last three games. The last time he went for double figures was Jan. 13. His season-high for shot attempts was nine, set in Nova’s season-opening rout of Morgan State. He took more shots against the Golden Eagles than he had in the previous 10 games combined. Villanova desperately needed him, too, as Eric Paschall and Phil Booth combined to go 5 of 27. Thank goodness for Jermaine Samuels, apparently.

How about Villanova’s resurgence from a three-game losing streak and four losses in their last five games? Now, any reaction to that slide was probably a bit overblown considering that all four Ls came on the road, and how many teams ever play three-straight road games in conference play? Still, double-digit losses to Xavier and Georgetown, wherever the games are played, aren’t going to be leave any team feeling overly confident heading into March. Not only Villanova put a stop to that slide, they did so with a win over a top-10 team and gave themselves a chance to win the Big East.

Now, that’s not exactly the loftiest of goals for a program that’s won two national titles in three years, but it’s something after the last couple weeks they’ve put together. If Samuels suddenly is a viable third scoring option, well, maybe it’ll be a more interesting March for Villanova than it looked destined to be during this skid.

For Marquette, it was a missed opportunity in their first Big East loss to a non-St. John’s team. They had their chances in the final minutes to wrestle away control from the Wildcats, but simply couldn’t get over the hurdles placed in front of them. Holding Pachall and Booth in check while Markus Howard goes for 25 points on 19 shots in Philadelphia should be a winning formula. With zero offensive help for Howard beyond Sam and Joey Hauser, along with Samuels’ big night, though, it wasn’t enough.

Which brings us to the big picture. The Big East remains undecided.

Marquette is still in the driver’s seat with a 12-3 mark while Villanova is a half-game back at 12-4. The Golden Eagles finish with home games against Creighton and Georgetown sandwiched around a trip to Seton Hall. Jay Wright’s team has a home tilt against Butler this weekend before the regular-season finale at Seton Hall. If both teams take care of business at home, the Big East title might be decided in Newark.

OH TEXAS

Texas led by 19 in the second half. The Longhorns made 15 of 27 from 3. They had the lead and the ball with seven seconds left.

Yet the Longhorns left Waco with an 84-83 loss.

Not great for a team living on the bubble, which Rob Dauster breaks down in some detail here.

Maybe more interesting than Texas’ troubles in Shaka Smart’s fourth year in Austin is the inexplicable resilience of Baylor. The Bears were supposed to be bad this season, lost arguably their best player in Tristan Clark and yet are somehow still a player for the Big 12 title with three games to play.

Mario Kegler scored 24 points, Devonte Bandoo had 18, Jared Butler 15 and Mark Vital 13 while the Bears grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, the formula they’ve ridden to a 10-5 conference record, one game behind leaders Texas Tech and Kansas State. The Bears still have road games against Kansas State and Kansas so they’ll probably slip back, but it’s astounding they’re even in this position. Scott Drew is your Big 12 coach of the year.

PENN STATE STAYS HOT

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Penn State was 0-10 in the Big Ten, with Pat Chambers’ 0-for getting to the NCAA tournament with the Nittany Lions the least of their worries, respectability being close to the top of the list.

Don’t look now, though, but Penn State won its third-straight with a 78-61 win over No. 17 Maryland in which they led 42-20 at halftime. The Nittany Lions have now won five of seven since that winless start.

When you’re at the bottom, there’s literally nowhere to go than up, but credit Penn State for figuring out how to pull itself out of the tailspin here.

 

Edwards, Haarms team up to lead No. 12 Purdue past Penn St.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Carsen Edwards scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half Saturday and Matt Haarms added a career-high 18 points to lead No. 12 Purdue past Penn State, 76-64.

The Boilermakers (18-7, 11-3 Big Ten) reclaimed a share of the conference lead with their ninth win in 10 games.

Lamar Stevens finished with 18 points and Rasir Bolton had 17 for Penn State (9-16, 2-12). The Nittany Lions have lost have 10 of 12.

The Edwards-Haarms combination completely changed the game early in the second half. The duo teamed up to score nine points in a 14-2 run that turned a four-point game into a 50-34 lead.

Penn State answered with six straight to cut the deficit to 50-40 and eventually got as close as 61-56 when Josh Reaves completed a three-point play with 4:27 left. But Purdue closed it out with an 8-0 run.

It was an odd game. The Big Ten’s two top scorers — Edwards and Stevens — both played through foul trouble and turned the ball over a combined 15 times. Neither team followed its usual script in the first half, either.

Instead, the Nittany Lions made three 3-pointers in the first four minutes to help give them a 17-10 lead. They made only two more the rest of the game.

Purdue, meanwhile, committed 12 first-half turnovers — more than its final tally in all but seven games this season. The Boilermakers wound up with a season-high 23.

And yet with Edwards making only one basket over the final 13 1/2 minutes of the first half, the Boilermakers somehow scrapped their way back. They tied the score at 19, took their first lead on Nojel Eastern’s layup with 6:47 left and closed out the half with a 33-30 advantage.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: This series has been full of frustration for the Nittany Lions. After rallying from a 17-point deficit to force overtime, the Boilermakers pulled away in January. This time, Penn State outplayed Purdue for most of the first half and a stretch in the second half, but couldn’t overcome a poor start to the second half. The Nittany Lions have lost nine straight in the series and 12 straight at Mackey Arena.

Purdue: The Boilermakers overcame their turnover flurry to rebound from Tuesday’s loss with a solid final 30 minutes. While the slip-up at No. 24 Maryland earlier this week could lead to a slide in the rankings and Saturday’s start wasn’t impressive, the Boilermakers shouldn’t fall far in the rankings — if they drop at all.

STAT PACK

Penn State: Stevens also had six rebounds and eight turnovers. … Myles Dread scored 10 points and was the only other Penn State player in double figures. … The Nittany Lions were 5 of 24 on 3s, including 0 of 9 in the second half. … John Harrar and Mike Watkins each fouled out. Stevens and Reaves also finished the game with four fouls.

Purdue: Haarms made only his second start since Dec. 16 and had six rebounds and two blocks. … Edwards finished with seven turnovers. … Grady Eifert had seven points and eight rebounds, while Eastern had four steals. … The Boilermakers have won 15 consecutive home games. … Former Purdue star E’Twaun Moore was honored at halftime with his own bobblehead. Moore plays for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Penn State upsets No. 6 Michigan as John Beilein ejected at halftime

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Penn State earned one of the college basketball season’s more surprising upsets on Tuesday night with a 75-69 Big Ten home win over No. 6 Michigan.

Only 1-11 in league play entering this game, Penn State built up a sizable first-half lead against a sluggish Michigan before Wolverines head coach John Beilein was ejected at the end of the half.

Beilein appeared to take issue with a non-call right before halftime. With Penn State on offense, Michigan guard Zavier Simpson attempted to fight through a screen and fell to the ground after hitting a Penn State screener, contributing to Nittany Lion guard Rasir Bolton scoring at the rim.

With Beilin receiving a double technical and getting ejected, Penn State took a 40-27 lead into the break with the added benefit of four free throws to start the second half (three were made).

Although Michigan rallied in the final two minutes to make things interesting — cutting the game to four multiple times in the final minute — the Wolverines never had the momentum to overcome to first-half deficit. Lamar Stevens paced Penn State with 26 points and 12 rebounds while freshman guard Myles Dread had 17 points for the Nittany Lions.

Outside of Charles Matthews (24 points) and Jordan Poole (17 points), the Michigan offense struggled to find someone else to step up. It also didn’t help that Simpson was a woeful 2-for-9 from the floor with eight points and six turnovers. Michigan’s defense was also shaky during stretches of this one as this was a puzzling game at times on both ends.

Playing without Beilein during the second half, it was a strange night for the Wolverines. Normally, a coach like him wouldn’t get tossed in a situation to end the first half in a game that meant more.

But the loss still happened. And, for the moment, it’s only a Quadrant 1 loss, so it won’t even look that bad for Michigan’s NCAA tournament purposes. As long as Michigan is able to overcome a difficult stretch the next few weeks, this won’t mean anything.

With two games left against Maryland, and two more against rival Michigan State, the Wolverines have to shake this loss off quickly if they want to stay in the Big Ten race.

Thursday’s Things To Know: Purdue survives, Houston finds revenge and Bobby Hurley gets meme’d

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There may not have been a marquee matchup on the schedule or a top-25 showdown, but Thursday night gave us plenty of interesting ball and one hilarious moment in Tempe. Here’s what you need to know:

PURDUE AVOIDS BAD LOSS BY OUTLASTING PENN STATE IN OT

Michigan and Michigan State deservedly get most of the Big Ten love as they’ve established themselves as not only the premier teams in the league, but in the country. They’re a third of a group of six teams – along with Duke, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Virginia – that have separated themselves from the rest of the country through three months.

There are, though, teams looking to break into that tier, and Purdue has quietly been among them, winners of five in a row, including against the Spartans, coming into Thursday night, which should have been a snoozefest against a Penn State team still looking for its first B1G win.

Instead, the Boilermakers needed 38 points from Carsen Edwards and overtime to defeat the Nittany Lions, 99-90, and improve to 15-6 overall and 9-2 in the B1G.

Early on, it looked like the Boilers were going to make it the blowout it should have been as Carsen scored 20 before halftime and Purdue led by as many as 17, looking like it was going to easily crack 100 in regulation and blow out Pat Chambers’ team. Instead, Penn State clamped down – at least compared to the game’s first 12 minutes – and fought back to force an extra frame. In fact, Penn State has a pretty good argument it should have won in regulation when a clear foul against Lamar Stevens wasn’t called and gave the ball back to Purdue, which got a game-tying layup from Edwards that eventually forced overtime. Penn State didn’t get a field goal in the extra frame until there were just 32 seconds left on the clock and Purdue leading by 11.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a road win for Purdue, which now has another pair of games it should win as it returns to West Lafayette for a two-game homestand against Minnesota and Nebraska. Then comes a huge game in College Park against No. 21 Maryland. It’s a critical stretch for the Boilers, who are a game back of both the Wolverines and the Spartans in the B1G standings. A hiccup against Penn State would have been a massive hit, both to their B1G hopes and the NCAA tournament resume.

HOUSTON GETS REVENGE

Houston is really good. Kelvin Sampson has built the Cougars into a formidable program not only in the AAC but in the country. They’re legit, even after losing Rob Gray from last year’s team. We don’t, however, talk about them all that much. You know when we would have? If they were going into February undefeated, but they’re not thanks to a setback at Temple earlier this month.

It’s probably only marginal solace, but Houston got that one back Thursday with a 73-66 win over the Owls at home in a game they largely controlled from start to finish.

Corey Davis, Jr. was great for the Cougs, scoring 24 points and grabbing five rebounds while Dejon Jarreau added 14 points and 12 boards from the bench.

Houston is in the midst of a huge stretch as the Owls were just a game out of first in the AAC, and now the Cougars have UCF (one game back) next Thursday followed by co-leader Cincinnati on Sunday and then Connecticut in Storrs later that week.

BOBBY HURLEY BECOMES A MEME (AND ARIZONA STATE WINS)

Arizona State bounced back from a loss to USC by beating in-state rival Arizona 95-88 in overtime Thursday in what I suppose is a relatively meaningful Pac-12 game. It keeps the Sun Devils within shouting distance of Washington at the top of the standings and every win counts when you’re trying to cobble together an at-large bid out of the Pac-12 these days.

The best thing to come out of this game, though, was Bobby Hurley getting smacked in the face by a basketball:

Now, I’m not celebrating Hurley experiencing some moderate physical discomfort or embarrassment here, but, goodness, this is so funny.

First off, it’s a loose ball, Bobby. Not Randy Johnson rifling a 102 mph fastball off your noggin. Might be a bit of an exaggerated reaction, there. I’m also still not sure how his feet come out from under him like he’s on an ice rink somewhere inside the Polar Vortex and not on a basketball floor in Tempe. Some enterprising social media users took the opportunity to point out that as a former Duke player, Hurley might have seen – or participated in – a flop or two in his life.

Maybe the best thing, though, is he gets right up and starts screaming at an official. It probably had nothing to do with the ball bouncing off his face, but it would be funnier if that’s what he was barking about.

Anyway, keep your head on a swivel, people.