There's a saying that they just keep making the same movies in Hollywood. In West Lafayette, the Boilers keep writing the same script to victory: slow start on offense gives way to a strong finish behind tough D and better tall players than the other team.
And after the miracle shot in College Station, I'm okay with an ending without a twist.
The Boilers win 64-59, sending Penn State home after an inspired three day run not many expected when the Big Ten Tournament started. D. J. Newbill, who eviscerated us in the earlier meeting between these teams, was held in check for most of the game after a quick start. He was 6 of 18 from the field while scoring 19 points. Ross Travis put in ten for the Nittany Lions as the only other Penn State player to score in double digits. Penn State did not have a chance of pulling off a third win in three days without Newbill going off, and Big Ten Defense Player of the year Rapheal Davis and company limited him to tough shots off the dribble that he struggled to knock in.
But the player of the game is A. J. Hammons who dominated the paint with 4 blocks while securing 9 demonstrative rebounds, and putting in a cool 23 points. It's one thing to be bigger than everyone else on the court, but when you combine that with also being better, it's just hard to stop and Hammons was a monster today. Securing the ball and positions and going up strong continuously. His 14 points in the first half kept us in the game until we found our heads(they had been buried like ostriches in human crevices).
Jon Octeus missed a double-double by one point, scoring 9 and pulling down 11 rebounds including back to back offense rebounds in a sequence of four offense rebounds late that helped seal our victory.
Rapheal Davis nailed a couple early three points on his way to three for the game and 13 points. He got into a bit of foul trouble in the first half, but Octeus and company did a good job replacing the defense player of the year's pressure on Newbill.
Dakota Mathias gets the award for the do everything guy. Mostly, he made some really nice passes to help our stagnant, at times, offense to get some easy buckets including a monster alley oop dunk that seemed to take a lot of the Lion's air out of their tires.
The big picture is that we avoided another bad loss that would have put us back in jeopardy of being placed back on the bubble. We played Purdue Basketball, unfortunately that brand of basketball can be a little frustrating to watch at times.
We now advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against the 1 seed Wisconsin Badgers at 1 pm tomorrow on CBS. This is a win-win game for us, for the most part. We've done well avoiding blow out losses to Bo Ryan and if we do that, we will only look stronger for taking on a possible one seed in the NCAA tournament. We didn't see enough from our guys today to be feeling great about playing the best team in the conference, but we've seen enough from these Boilers that an upset isn't out of the picture.
It just feels nice to be advancing in something other than the CBI and having meaningful basketball in March again.
Boiler up and put on your dancing shoes.