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Lions run past, over, Wake Forest

By Jack R. Hirsh

For the Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK — Despite a 9:15 p.m. tip-off time, Penn State was wide awake on Wednesday night.

The Nittany Lions, behind a career-high 22 points from Myreon Jones, used a 16-3 run to close out the opening half and pull away from Wake Forest 76-54 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

MJ’s career day

Similar to his big game against Georgetown a few weeks ago, Jones used a hot start to lead all scorers with 16 points after the opening 20 minutes.

He cooled slightly in the second half, but still continued his efficient scoring, fishing 8-of-13 from the floor and connecting on three triples.

His second 3-pointer of the game came at a crucial moment for Penn State.

Penn State was just into the “Under-8” media timeout after Wake Forest had cut the Penn State lead from 13 to just five. Jones’ triple was the kickstarter of a 16-2 run which Penn State never looked back from.

Defense steals the show

Penn State used a flurry of steals early in the first half to begin to open up a lead.

Stevens got a steal and ran down the court before unleashing a huge windmill slam without a single Demon Deacon around him. The senior forward’s night ended with 14 points.

A couple possessions later saw Myles Dread and Stevens grab steals and go coast-to-coast for lay-ups.

The Nittany Lions ended the game with a 32-11 advantage in points off turnovers. Penn State also outscored Wake Forest on the fast break by a 23-17 margin.

Mike Watkins, who came into the game as the Big Ten’s leading blocker, averaging 4.0 blocks per game, was his normal dominant self. He ended up swatting away five of Penn State’s six blocked shots on the night.

Watkins collects No. 800

Speaking of Watkins, he collected his 800th rebound of his career on the night in the second half. He finished with a game-high 16 boards against the Deamon Deacons.

It was part of a dominant effort on the glass for Penn State, which outrebounded Wake Forest, 52-33, for the game.

Watkins was able to limit Demon Deacons center Olivier Saar, who came in averaging 13.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Wake Forest 7-footer finished with a double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds, but many of those points and rebounds came when the game was already out of reach for Wake. Saar was just 3-of-9 from the floor.

Up next

Penn State will head to No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday for it’s conference opener. The Buckeyes are undefeated after winning at North Carolina, 74-49, on Wednesday night, also a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

WAKE FOREST (5-4): Oguama 0-2 0-0 0, Mucius 1-8 0-0 2, White 4-8 0-0 10, Childress 0-7 1-2 1, Johnson 1-3 2-2 4, Van Beveren 0-0 0-0 0, Buchanan 0-0 0-0 0, Massoud 0-3 2-4 2, Sarr 3-8 8-9 14, Lester 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 3-7 0-0 7, Neath 1-6 2-3 4, Wynn 3-3 1-2 8, Brown 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 17-59 16-22 54.

PENN ST. (7-1): Watkins 3-6 1-2 7, Stevens 5-13 4-4 14, Dread 2-9 0-0 4, M.Jones 8-13 3-3 22, Wheeler 1-1 0-0 2, Lundy 1-3 0-0 3, Harrar 1-1 0-1 2, Buttrick 0-1 1-2 1, Brockington 5-9 2-3 13, C.Jones 3-9 0-2 6, Beattie 0-1 0-0 0, McCloskey 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-68 11-17 76.

Halftime–Penn St. 41-23. 3-Point Goals–Wake Forest 4-12 (White 2-4, Wynn 1-1, Wright 1-2, Massoud 0-2, Childress 0-3), Penn St. 5-28 (M.Jones 3-7, Brockington 1-2, Lundy 1-3, Beattie 0-1, McCloskey 0-1, Buttrick 0-1, Stevens 0-3, Dread 0-5, C.Jones 0-5). Fouled Out–Oguama. Rebounds–Wake Forest 33 (Sarr 10), Penn St. 47 (Watkins 16). Assists–Wake Forest 9 (Neath, Childress 2), Penn St. 12 (Harrar, Stevens 3). Total Fouls–Wake Forest 17, Penn St. 21.

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