Penn State pulls away from Duquesne, 82-74
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Excuse Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr if they don't know all the words to Penn State's alma mater yet. They admitted they don't as they've been busy absorbing basketball knowledge.
If they keep playing like they did in Sunday's 82-74 win over Duquesne, Penn State's freshmen, tasked with singing along after every win, will likely learn the song in no time.
Stevens scored 24 points, Carr added 20 and fellow freshman Mike Watkins netted 15 for the Nittany Lions who pulled away from the Dukes at the Bryce Jordan Center.
''For Shep (Garner) only to score six, and us still win? That bodes well for our team and our future,'' Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
Although Penn State's top scorer was held without a basket for the first 27 minutes, the Nittany Lions (1-1) made up for the lack of scoring by turning the Dukes' mistakes against them.
The Nittany Lions scored 12 first-half points off 13 turnovers and led 33-29 at halftime.
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry was pleased that his team held Garner mostly in check. He made just 2 of 7 field goals, both 3-pointers, and added five assists.
''Tonight we were forcing other guys to beat us and they did,'' Ferry said.
The teams swapped the lead six times in the second half before Penn State (1-1) went ahead for good on a Julian Moore slam dunk that made it 54-53 with 10:57 left.
The Nittany Lions made 48 percent of their field goals, hit 6 of 7 from long range in the second half and closed out the game with a 28-21 run.
Carr led the team with seven rebounds.
STEVENS AT THE LINE
With Duquesne not giving up many wide open looks, Penn State's offense had to move pieces around to create points.
Stevens did plenty of the moving. He showed off his patience waiting for lanes to open up and drove through them and to the basket where his teammates found him or the Dukes fouled him.
Half of his points came at the free throw line where he made 12 of 13.
BIG GAME BIG MAN
Watkins displayed flashes of dominance in the paint for a second-straight game. He picked up five more blocks to push his 2-game total to 10 and snagged six rebounds.
''Mike's bringing a lot of juice,'' Chambers said. ''He's so raw. I don't even know if he knows how good he is.''
Technically a redshirt freshman after he was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA last season, Watkins led Penn State's bigs with 27 minutes, a number Chambers wants to cut down on.
Chambers said sophomore guard Josh Reaves could miss ''another week at least'' as he continues to deal with a lower leg injury suffered late in preseason practice. Reaves was originally expected to miss the first three games.
Penn State also appeared to lose forward Davis Zemgulis midway through the game with what Chambers said he thinks is a concussion. Chambers said Zemgulis had not been diagnosed with a concussion but suspects he'll be out for the immediate future.
THE BIG PICTURE
Duquesne: With just two starters back and having lost more than 71 percent of their scoring from last season's 17-17 squad, the Dukes remain a work in progress.
They'll have plenty of opportunities to find chemistry as they continue the busiest opening month in school history. Duquesne will play six games in the next 15 days to cap an 8-game November.
Penn State: Pat Chambers' objective with an equally young team is to play hard and fast and worry about cleaning up mistakes later. They had plenty to correct after a error-filled opening half led to a loss against Albany on Friday.
More importantly, Penn State needed to address those concerns in a bounce-back that gave Chambers a chance to reinforce his message with a positive tone.
Duquesne hosts St. Francis (Pa.) (0-1) on Wednesday.
Grand Canyon (0-1) visits Penn State on Tuesday.