It’s been the same thing all season long for Penn State: Build a lead, then give it away at the end and lose.
Not this time.
The Nittany Lions finally were able to hold on late and won on the road in the Big Ten for the first time this season, 86-83, at Nebraska on Tuesday night.
Myreon Jones scored a career-high 29 points for PSU. He and Jamari Wheeler went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the closing seconds to help the Lions seal it. Nebraska missed a 3 for a chance to tie in the final seconds, and Penn State came away with the rebound and dribbled out the clock.
The Lions held on to win despite an incredible effort by Nebraska’s Teddy Allen, who scored 41 and finished one shy of tying Eric Piatkowski’s school record of 42 set in 1994. Allen won the game for Nebraska last week at Penn State, 62-61, with a bucket in the final seconds.
The Lions snapped a four-game losing streak. They moved to 5-11 in the Big Ten and 8-12 overall with three regular-season games remaining.
Penn State went on an 11-0 run midway through the second half to take a 58-48 lead, but as anyone who’s watched the team knows, leads like that have disappeared in a hurry all season.
It also happened in this game, as Nebraska hit three straight 3-pointers and tied the game at 70 with 6:20 to go.
But on this night, Penn State was able to avoid the same old movie we’ve seen so often, and write an alternate ending.
“There’s a lot of love in this huddle, and these guys keep fighting for each other. I think you saw that tonight,” interim coach Jim Ferry said. “This could have been a very easily, when they made that run back at us, that they could have put their heads down and stop, said ‘here we again,’ and they didn’t. They just kept playing and kept believing in each other, and I’m really proud of this group.”
ONIONS!: Ferry broke out the famous Bill Raftery word when talking about Jamari Wheeler. He was a terrible 3-point shooter early in his career but has improved this season, hitting some big 3s. He had three of them Tuesday night, in clutch situations.
“He’s put the time in, and we all trust him — his teammates trust him, everybody trusts him,” Ferry said. “You’re talking about one of the most fierce competitors in the Big Ten, and the big 3 that he hit late for us (for a 73-70 lead), that was just, whatever you wanna call it, showed a lot of onions.”
Harrar the workhorese: John Harrar scored 10 points and had 14 rebounds, some where he just willed himself to get the ball and create opportunities for his team. As we’ve said several times now, if there were a national player of the year award for sheer work ethic, Harrar would be the most deserving candidate you could find.
Teddy Buckets: Major props to Teddy Allen, who was phenomenal for Nebraska with 41 points. He hit 16-of-24 from the field, 6-of-9 from 3 and all three of his free throws. Too bad for him that it was in a losing effort.
Toe to toe: A big reason Penn State was able to win was because it had a player with a ton of points, too. No. Myreon Jones didn’t match Allen’s 41, but 29 is a huge number, and the kind of big-time production the Lions needed from one player in order to win whenever a guy on the other side had such a big game. Jones hit 6-of-12 from 3 and 8-of-18 shots overall.
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