Nittany Lions show balance in thrashing
UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State’s offensive balance was on display again at the Jordan Center Sunday afternoon. In a 93-67 blowout of Longwood, the Lions overcame a so-so game by star guard Tim Frazier and a sloppy first half to win with ease.
Forwards Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis, along with guard D.J. Newbill, combined 59 points, 25 rebounds and 12 assists as Penn State improved to 4-1 on the season. The Lancers fell to 2-3.
“You can’t be just one or two guys,” said Newbill, who had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. “All five guys have to come ready to play every day. That’s the beauty of our team. … The depth has really picked up.”
Taylor posted a career-high 25 points on the strength of a 5-of-9 effort from the arc. Travis had a double-double early in the second half, and finished with a career-high 13 rebounds to go along with 11 points.
Longwood used a zone defense that allowed multiple men to hedge toward Frazier. He came in averaging 20.5 points and more than 13 shots per game. Yet he didn’t force anything Sunday. He took only six shots (making four) and finished with eight assists.
“When have you ever seen your best player take only six shots and continue to look for others?” third-year coach Pat Chambers asked his team after the game. “He took good shots. He didn’t force anything. To me, that’s a big-time leader.”
“That’s how much of a great player he is,” Newbill added. “He can impact a game without even scoring.”
Penn State did not play particularly well in the first half. The Lions had nine turnovers and made only one of eight 3-pointers. But they played hard, led by Travis’ six points and nine boards, and still managed to take a 37-27 lead into the locker room.
“It was nice for me to see that we could still play hard without making shots,” Chambers said.
The made shots would come in the second half. The team was 1 of 13 from the arc at one point, but then Taylor found his range. He bombed in four treys, including one from NBA distance.
“For this team to be good, I’m going to have to knock down shots when Tim and D.J. penetrate into the gaps,” Taylor said.
His shooting opened things up inside for the slashing Newbill, who went 7 of 10 from the floor and 8 of 11 from the stripe. He was a physical mismatch for the Lancer guards, too, with five offensive rebounds.
“Our offense is clicking right now, we’re hitting shots,” Newbill said. “Our offensive spacing is beautiful right now.”
It amounted to a 56-point second half, PSU’s most in a single period since hanging 60 on Gardner-Webb in the final 20 minutes in December of 2009.
According to first-year Lancer coach Jayson Gee, the key to Penn State’s offense is the ability of big men like Taylor to hit 3-pointers.
“I don’t know how Big Ten defenders are going to come out and defend that,” he said. “On a hot (shooting) night, I think they can beat anybody.”
They obviously could beat Longwood, as the second-half margin grew as wide as 30 (85-55) before Chambers cleared his bench with three minutes remaining. But it is difficult to gauge just how good the Lancers are. Their resume includes an 82-79 win at TCU. But it also features an 81-69 home loss to Brown.
Chambers is just happy to see different players stepping up in different games. If someone is a bit off, someone else may be a bit more on.
In other words, you never know who might explode.
“As you can see, the confidence is building in each guy,” Chambers said.
Game notes: Guard Isaac Belton led Longwood with 17 off the bench. … Penn State won the battle of the boards, 36-24. … After committing nine turnovers in the first half, the Lions only had two in the second. … With students gone for Thanksgiving break, the crowd was listed at only 4,261. … Penn State plays host to Monmouth at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The game can been seen on BTN.
LONGWOOD (2-3): Ziegler 0-4 6-6 6, Havenstein 0-1 0-0 0, Fisher 2-6 2-2 6, Woodhouse 3-9 0-0 8, Carey 5-12 0-0 13, Allen 0-0 1-2 1, Belton 4-10 7-8 17, Dublin 7-10 2-4 16, Geter 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 21-52 18-24 67.
PENN ST. (4-1): Jack 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor 9-16 2-2 25, Travis 4-9 3-4 11, Newbill 7-10 8-11 23, Frazier 4-6 1-1 9, Woodward 2-4 1-2 7, Roberts 3-6 1-1 8, Thorpe 1-1 2-2 4, Montminy 0-0 0-0 0, Cooper 0-0 0-0 0, Wisniewski 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 32-56 20-25 93.
Halftime-Penn St. 37-27. 3-Point Goals-Longwood 7-20 (Carey 3-8, Belton 2-5, Woodhouse 2-5, Fisher 0-2), Penn St. 9-24 (Taylor 5-9, Woodward 2-3, Roberts 1-4, Newbill 1-4, Frazier 0-1, Jack 0-1, Travis 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Longwood 24 (Woodhouse, Ziegler 5), Penn St. 36 (Travis 13). Assists-Longwood 9 (Woodhouse 5), Penn St. 25 (Frazier 8). Total Fouls-Longwood 21, Penn St. 20. A-4,261.