Written By Ben Hoyt | Edited by Andre Monroe
Penn State wins at the Bryce Jordan Center in commanding fashion with a final score of 93-81, sweeping Illinois on the season and erasing a four game losing streak. The Nittany Lions now sit at 15-11 on the season and look to continue stacking valuable wins.
Penn State started hot out of the gate, two early buckets put the lead at 4-0 early on. Both Illinois and Penn State went back and forth until the first media timeout where the score was 14-11. Penn State continued its onslaught, never allowing Illinois to even take a lead in the first half.
Jalen Pickett had an MVP caliber first half, taking the initiative to score early from the first basket of the game and continued until the last basket of the half. He also hit double digits with 9:46 left to go in the half. He ended his half with 24-10-12 from the field, 4-6 from three point range.
The team would continue to rely on Pickett who set a career high on the night with 40. Pickett neared a double-double, finishing with 40-8-2 on the night. There’s a reason he’s nominated to the Naismith Player of the Year Midseason Team. The Nittany Lions will go as far as Jalen Pickett takes them.
Kanye Clary made the most of his minutes off the bench early on in the first half, drawing a foul, making 1 of 2 free throws and knocking down a tough jumper to extend the lead to 22-13. He would continue to get valuable minutes in the second half, finishing the game with 12 points.
Seth Lundy continued his hot streak scoring 11 points in the first half, 4-7 from the field, 3-5 from the perimeter.
On the other side, Illinois struggled to not only stop the Penn State offense, but did not create many of their own chances either. Ty Rodgers was the only Fighting Illini player to score double digits in the half with 10.
Early on in the 2nd half, Illinois matched Penn State’s offensive total with 17 points compared to Penn State’s 18 with just over 11 minutes to go, at that point Hawkins was the leading scorer with 12, Rodgers had 10, and Shannon Jr had 11.
Shannon Jr. with 10:00 left took control of Illinois’ offense, cutting it down back to single digits multiple times with a bucket to cut it to 9, and hit a crucial 3 pointer to bring it back to 8 points, increasing his total to 18 with 8:12 left to go.
However Penn State always kept Illinois more than arms length away, Pickett continued to dominate, increasing his career high to 35 at the 8:00 media timeout.
Just like the first half, Pickett was the story of the 2nd.
When the Nittany Lions have it going from beyond the perimeter, they are a challenging offense to stop. The pace of Penn State’s offense with Pickett at the helm is hard to stop.