Even with the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer Tony Carr out of the lineup, a fresh Penn State team dominated on both ends of the court and routed the same George Mason team that throttled it by 19 points the previous season. With Carr set to return, the Lions seek a third straight win when Binghamton visits Tuesday in a non-conference matchup.
With Carr out, sophomore Lamar Stevens picked a good time to record his first career double-double, producing 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking two shots as the Nittany Lions dispatched the Patriots 72-54 on Sunday. Mike Watkins added 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 12 rebounds and two blocks for his third double-double of the season as the Lions outscored the Patriots 26-8 in the paint in the first half and held George Mason to 37 percent shooting for the game while forcing 15 turnovers. “We had about eight days off and we looked like we were prepared on the defensive end and we worked on our habits,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers told gopsusports.com. “The rest that we had, we had fresher legs today, and with Lamar and Mike, we had a size advantage, and we took advantage of that today. As a collective group, even a man down, we really stepped up.” Binghamton, which is riding a seven-game winning streak and stands at 8-4 for the first time since 2008-09 when the team played in the NCAA Tournament, scored the last 11 points Sunday to beat Sacred Heart 51-48.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT BINGHAMTON (8-4): J.C. Show, a 6-2 junior who started his career at Bucknell and had his first season with the Bearcats cut short by a tricep injury last season, scored 21 points in the victory over Sacred Heart and leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game while shooting 41 percent behind the arc. The Bearcats are still waiting for senior Willie Rodriguez - the school’s only 1,000 point scorer in its Division I era (since 2001-02) - to get on track, as the 6-6 forward is averaging only 9.4 points despite shooting 52 percent from the floor. Thomas Bruce, a 6-9 junior, has practically doubled his scoring average from a season ago to 13.7 points on 60 percent shooting and adds 9.3 rebounds.
ABOUT PENN STATE (9-3): Carr (20 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists) was suspended for one game for violation of team rules. The 6-8 Stevens, who scored only 14 points in his previous two games and has battled inconsistency his first two years, is second on the team in scoring (14.5 points) and rebounding (6.9), while senior Shep Garner (10.6 points, 36 percent on 3-pointers) and junior Josh Reaves (10.8 points, 2.3 steals) also average in double figures. The 6-9 Watkins (12.7 points, 8.4 rebounds) played 30 minutes per game just five times last season due to conditioning and foul concerns, but the Big Ten’s No. 2 shot blocker (3.5) has played 30-plus minutes in each of the last four games, averaging 17.5 points on 30-of-44 shooting, 9.8 rebounds and four blocks per game.
1. The teams have one opponent in common, as Penn State easily beat George Mason, while the Bearcats were beaten 69-57 by the Patriots on Nov. 16.
2. George Mason was the sixth opponent the Nittany Lions held under 60 points this season and the second time they accomplished the feat against back-to-back opponents.
3. Eighty-nine of Garner’s 107 shot attempts this season have come beyond the arc. For his four-year career, 61.6 percent of his shots have been 3-pointers.
PREDICTION: Penn State 72, Binghamton 53