Penn State basketball | Nittany Lions cruise past Rutgers for third Big Ten win of season | Sports | #schoolshooting

STATE COLLEGE – First-year Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry just before the season started reiterated he isn’t expecting perfection from his new team as it began a new era for the basketball program.

Instead, Shrewsberry said he would rather see progress and the building of trust as they worked together for his inaugural season.

Fourteen games into the Shrewsberry era, both points of emphasis for the new coach appear to be coalescing. 
Penn State defeated Rutgers, 66-49, on Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center to give the Nittany Lions their third win in four games and put them at 3-3 in Big Ten play.

Penn State (8-6) also earned wins against Indiana and Northwestern during the span, which followed a 22-day coronavirus layoff.

“They earned a well-deserved day off tomorrow for what we just went through,” Shrewsberry said after the win. “Twenty-two days from game to game, and then to come back and play four games in nine days. That’s tough.”

The Nittany Lions defensively swarmed Rutgers (9-6, 3-2 Big Ten) early, contesting Scarlet Knights’ shooters’ shot attempts early and attacking the rebounds in a fight for defensive rebounds.

The Scarlet Knights shot 19-of-56 (33.9%) from the field.

Rutgers entered the early-week matchup averaging 70.4 points per game behind leading scorer Ron Harper Jr.’s 16.3 points per contest. The Scarlet Knights struggled to find any rhythm on offense through the better part of the first half.

The Nittany Lions attached Seth Lundy to Harper, and Lundy remained at his side for 34 of the 36 minutes Harper played.

“Seth Lundy has guarded the best player, or one of the best players, on every single team this year,” Shrewsberry said. “I told him tonight, and I told the guys on the staff, do not take Seth out. When Ron Harper goes out of the game, Seth Lundy comes out of the game. I said, ‘Seth, if I’m not paying attention and you see Ron Harper go in the game, get up and check yourself back in.’”

The Scarlet Knights only managed three baskets through the first 11 minutes. Harper Jr. was held to 1-of-6 shooting in the opening half and took three points into the break. He ended with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field.

Rutgers finally cracked double-digit scoring when center Clifford Omoruyi made a layup at the 7:10 of the first half mark as Penn State led, 21-11.

As the Nittany Lions battled their own scoring drought midway through the first half – which lasted just over three minutes – Rutgers’ shooters settled into a rhythm. The Scarlet Knights went on a run during the back half of the first period that cut their deficit to four points.

Jalen Pickett and Sam Sessoms, however, combined for three baskets to send the Nittany Lions into halftime with a 27-19 lead.

Sessoms scored a game-high 17 points.

“I just listen to Coach Shrews, and he’s going to call out the play,” Sessoms said. “We just have to execute it (and) believe in the practice and work that we put in. At times, (Pickett) and I look at ease out there, but we’re just following what we do in practice every day.”

The halftime break didn’t do much to infuse the Scarlet Knight offense.

Rutgers went 4-of-12 through the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Omoruyi provided two of those baskets. Omoruyi finished with team-high 12 points.

The Nittany Lions pushed their lead to double-digits with 10:17 remaining in the game after a pair of 3-pointers by Sessoms and Seth Lundy.

Sessoms scored 10 points in the second half.

Penn State’s John Harrar added a pair of layups, while Greg Lee and Jevonnie Scott each contributed two-point field goals to give Penn State a 13-point lead with 7:05 remaining in the game.

From there, the Nittany Lions’ lead never dipped below 10 points.

Nittany Lions’ transfer Jevonnie Scott made his much-anticipated Penn State debut midway through the first half. He played five minutes and recorded two points and one rebound.

“I was just happy to see Jevonnie out there tonight,” Sessoms said. “He’s been here with us… I knew it was taking a mental toll on him. It was tough to be away from home, to be going to school and not being able to do the thing that you love, which is basketball.”

Harrar finished with 16 points, Pickett contributed 15 points and Lundy added 10 points to give Penn State four double-digit scorers. Greg Lee collected 12 rebounds.

The Nittany Lions shot 26-of-60 (43.3%) from the field.

Penn State travels to No. 16 Ohio State (10-3, 4-1 Big Ten) on Sunday. The Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 76-64, in early December.

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