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Penn State Basketball: Watkins Grabs 19 Rebounds In 60-43 Victory Over Rutgers

on January 27, 2018 7:00 PM

Penn State basketball made it two straight Big Ten victories on Saturday afternoon as the Nittany Lions used a strong second half to beat Rutgers 60-43.

In front of a crowd of just over 13,000 Penn State started out cold from the floor, perhaps an expected offensive hangover after a white hot shooting night against Ohio State just days earlier. Nevertheless it was Tony Carr pacing Penn State with 12 first half points on 5-of-9 shooting and 10 rebounds from Mike Watkins in the opening 20 minutes of play.

By the half a balanced offensive attack and timely defense eased the Nittany Lions to a five-point 28-23 halftime margin. 

It was the second half though that paved the way for a much easier victory. Led by nine additional rebounds by Watkins, the sophomore totaled a career-high 19 rebounds to go with his 15 points as Penn State warmed up around the rim and allowed just two offensive rebounds all game.

The Nittany Lions held star Rutgers guard Corey Sanders to no points and an effective outing by Josh Reaves showcased why the junior guard is among one of the best in the league. Reaves finished the night with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and four steals, the Virginia native now No.10 all-time on Penn State's career steals list.

If anything, Saturday proved to be a rare display of the team's best attributes in front of the biggest crowd of the season. Back-to-back dunks by Josh Reaves and Lamar Stevens sent fans into a frenzy as the Nittany Lions pulled away. Penn State scored 32 points in the second half, holding Rutgers to just 20 in the final 20 minutes of play. It was an afternoon of tenacious defense and timely shotmaking, an occasional rarity following marquee wins.

By the game's end the Nittany Lions found themselves sitting at 5-5 in conference play and 15-8 overall, on track for the best Big Ten finish in the Pat Chambers era.

Penn State travels to Michigan State next to face the Spartans on Wednesday. Tip in East Lansing is scheduled for 6:30.

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