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Penn State Basketball: Watkins, Garner Lead Nittany Lions Past Columbia 79-65

on November 17, 2017 10:10 PM

Penn State overcame an early season injury bug without star guards Tony Carr and Josh Reaves to beat Columbia 79-65 on Friday night to open the season 4-0.

How it happened:

Columbia jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the opening minutes before Penn State went on a 20-6 run to blow the game wide open up 27-14 with 7:05 to go in the first half. It was foul trouble though that plagued the Nittany Lions with several players picking up two fouls in the early going. As a result, already shorthanded without Carr or Reaves, the Nittany Lions saw their lead slowly shrink to just five at the half. 

Leading 38-35 to start the second 20 minutes of play a quick spurt, fueled by Mike Watkins, gave Penn State a much more comfortable 46-38 margin just over three minutes into the second half. From there Columbia would get the game within single digits on a few occasions, but Penn State continued to find the answers from the likes of Shep Garner, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins. The Nittany Lions saw out the finish, leading by 15 heading into the game's final minute.

It was over when:

With 12:16 to play Columbia trailed by just seven before a 12-0 run gave Penn State a comfortable margin to work with in the final 10 minutes of play. Watkins chipped in six of those points with two layups and a dunk over the span. Shep Garner added a three as well.

Stat of the game:

Penn State forced 10 steals to Columbia's three all night while scoring 16 points off of turnovers. After a tough night at the free throw line earlier in the week, the Nittany Lions shot 82% from the line and won both rebounding battles on the offensive and defensive glass.

Player of the game:

Mike Watkins is everything to this Penn State team and an 11 point, 14 rebound, six block night showcased why. Shep Garner though may have been the MVP with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and just one turnover all night. Without Carr in the rotation for the foreseeable future, an effective Garner is huge for the Nittany Lions.

Up next:

Penn State is back in action next Monday in Brooklyn against Pitt. Tip is scheduled for 9:30. 

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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Nebraska
November 17, 2017 3:30 PM
Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Nebraska
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