Penn State struggles against Kentucky

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

Penn State had not been tested in opening the season with three wins.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions got the second ranked team in the nation, and it showed.

Doron Lamb had 26 points and No. 2 Kentucky routed Penn State 85-47 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Connecticut.

Kyle Wiltjer added 19 points and Terrence Jones had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Kentucky (3-0).

Tim Frazier had 11 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead Penn State (3-1), which had opened with wins over Hartford, Radford and Long Island.

''My team is going to grow up,'' Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. ''We just got to keep tapping. We just have to use this as a learning experience. I thought for the second 20 minutes they played harder. They were loose and played much better.''

It would be hard to play worse than Penn State did in the first half, when the Wildcats held the Lions without a field goal for more than 11 1/2 minutes, opening up a 34-point lead, and never looked back.

''We all believe in one another, and we play like it,'' Jones said. ''No one cares who shoots the ball. We're just having fun.''

The Nittany Lions shot 27 percent from the field, 16 percent in the first half.

The Wildcats, who struggled in the first half of their 75-65 win over No. 12 Kansas earlier in the week, had a much faster start on Saturday.

They opened the game in a full-court press and jumped out to a 16-5 lead, a run that included a four-point play when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed a missed free throw by Jones and then hit a 3-point shot from the corner.

It was 38-12 after three consecutive 3-pointers by Kentucky, one from Jones and two more by Lamb, part of a 14-0 run by the Wildcats.

Lamb hit six of his first eight shots, and his driving layup pushed the lead to 30 points with just under 5 minutes left in the first half. At that point, he was outscoring Penn State 17-12.

''I think I played great,'' Lamb said. ''Just like Coach said, my motor is getting better. I just wanted to come out and play hard and keep my motor going.''

Frazier, who came in averaging almost 21 points and nine assists, hit a layup for Penn State with 11:34 left in the half. The Nittany Lions didn't get another field goal until Jon Graham tipped in his own missed dunk at the buzzer to make it 47-15 at the half.

''We have a lot of young guys and this is their first time playing on the big stage,'' Frazier said. ''So you get the jitters in the first half.''

Penn State was 6 for 37 from the field in the first half, including 1 of 15 from behind the 3-point arc.

Kentucky shot 53 percent from the floor. Penn State held its first three opponents to under 38 percent shooting and forced more than 18 turnovers per game. The Wildcats turned the ball over 10 times.

Chambers said his team was coming together, something it has had to do in the wake of the child molestation scandal that has rocked the athletic department and the university.

''Obviously we're very sad about the situations with the families and the children,'' he said. ''But we met a lot, we stayed together. We're trying to get some normalcy back. We're doing the best we can about picking each other up and allowing the guys to ask questions. That's all we can really do.

This was just the fourth meeting between the two schools and Kentucky leads the series 3-1. Penn State won the previous meeting back in 2000.

The Nittany Lions are 1-10 all time against teams ranked second in the nation. Penn State's last win against a team ranked this high was a 65-63 victory over Michigan State in 2001.

''They're a new team with a new coach, too,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said. ''They're going to be fine. They hit us on a bad day. We played pretty good.''

share story