Talk about a statement game. What Penn State accomplished Tuesday night sent a message not only to the rest of the Big Ten that it has a pretty good team, it also sent a message to the players in its own locker room.
That message: If they play like this, and more importantly shoot like this, the Nittany Lions will have a chance against any team they play.
Penn State went to a very tough place to play and humiliated a pretty good team in the kind of statement victory that will be sure to make Big Ten teams take notice with league play coming up.
The Nittany Lions used a 17-0 run early, shot lights out and played great from start to finish in a dominating 75-55 win at No. 15 Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies had won 34 consecutive home games against non-conference teams since 2015, the third-longest streak in the country.
Keep in mind, PSU was picked to finish 12th in the Big Ten, yet went on the road and clobbered a top 20 team.
Again, that’s making quite a statement. But as interim coach Jim Ferry says in the video below, this team didn’t need to make any kind of statement for its own internal confidence.
“I think we already believe that,” Ferry said when asked about the players making a statement that they can beat anybody. “I don’t think it needed to be a statement for our program. We believe that.
“I don’t think we really care about what everybody else thinks or what the nation thinks and stuff like that,” he added. “That stuff gets taken care of by itself. Our guys are more about each other to themselves.”
Izaiah Brockington, who finished with a career-high 24 points, was red hot early to help PSU jump out to a stunning 17-3 lead. The Hokies took that punch and got back up, pulling within 21-13, but Penn State didn’t stop punching and stretched the lead back to 42-23 at the half.
The Lions didn’t let up in the second half. They continued to shoot the ball well and kept pounding the Hokies, with the lead approaching 30.
It was the opposite of what happened to PSU its last time out, when the Lions built a 19-point lead against Seton Hall, only to give it all away in a 98-92 overtime loss.
Ferry again on Tuesday called that Seton Hall loss “devastating.” The Lions led by eight with 1:58 to go in regulation.
“We didn’t really stick together in the Seton Hall game, but we sure did tonight,” Ferry said.
“I just simply wrote on my board: We’ve been here before. What are we going to do with it,” Ferry added.
Incredibly, PSU destroyed Virginia Tech despite leading scorer Seth Lundy being held scoreless. That shows the kind of offensive weapons and balance that this team has.
This win came against a Virginia Tech team that came in 4-0 and with an impressive 81-73 overtime victory against No. 3 Villanova on Nov. 29 on its resume.
Penn State wore its black and pink uniforms, and improved to 12-0 all-time during the regular season while wearing those uniforms.
The victory was the 1,500th in program history for the Lions. It also was just the second victory every for Ferry against a ranked team. When he was at Duquesne, his team beat No. 10 Saint Louis in 2014.
Penn State finished 12-of-23 from 3-point territory, while Virginia Tech was just 6-of-22. If the Lions can shoot like that, they’ll have a chance to beat just about anyone on the schedule, even in the very difficult Big Ten.
Speaking of which, Penn State’s next game is Sunday at Michigan in the Big Ten opener.