Associated Press, December 21, 2016
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Tony Carr looked toward the basket, took a step inside and bounced a pass into the hands of Shep Garner, who dropped it neatly in the hoop.
Garner pointed in Carr's direction and offered a respectful nod as they headed back down the court where they'd soon be back on the attack again and again during Penn State's 96-55 win over Morgan State on Wednesday.
It was the pace and trust Penn State coach Patrick Chambers envisioned his team playing with before the season started. Then, he knew he'd have veterans like Garner to lean on. He also knew Penn State would need to draw plenty from rookies like Carr.
"This is what I envisioned for sure," Chambers said. "I think they're getting really smart where we're not jacking 3s in those situations where we may have missed a few in the row. Now we've got to put pressure on the paint. Now we've got to get ourselves to the free-throw line. Now we've got to go attack the rim really strong."
The Nittany Lions (8-5) did so in waves.
Lamar Stevens scored 20 points, Carr and Payton Banks added 11 apiece and Mike Watkins, Shep Garner and Julian Moore scored 10 each for Penn State, which has won two straight.
Penn State used a 23-10 run to take a 49-29 halftime lead and never led by less than 18 in the second half. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions outrebounded the Bears 49-32, outscored them in the paint 52-12 and dropped 27 fast-break points.
Phillip Carr led Morgan State (3-8) with 19 points and Kyle Thomas added 14.
It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for the Bears, who played their second straight without leading scorer Tiwian Kendley.
SHARING THE BALL
Tony Carr, who finished with 10 rebounds, just missed out on what would've been his first career triple-double. He finished with eight assists, many of them slick like his inside feed to Garner in the first half. Overall, it was an unselfish night for the Nittany Lions who combined for 23 assists.
A handful of them were made by Stevens as he had to decide when and where to drive to the hoop as Morgan State defenders rushed to the top of the arc to guard him.
They had little success. Stevens began the second with six of his team's first 10 points, including two on a vicious dunk set up by another nice inside dish by Carr.
"The juice that he brings off his dunks, he is fearless when he's going to the basket and he also will jump up and make an extra pass," Chambers said. "He is becoming a really good basketball player and the feel that he has right now, for a freshman, he's a little bit beyond his years."
NO KENDLEY, LITTLE OFFENSE
The Bears had trouble scoring without top shooter Kendley, who's led them in points in five of nine games he's played. The junior transfer from Lamar Community College missed his second straight game with a stress fracture in his right foot. Despite suffering the injury in an earlier game, Kendley scored 40 in a two-overtime game against Manhattan on Dec. 6 before the injury flared up and forced him to sit out.
Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said he expects Kendley back "at some point" this season.
"I knew it was going to be tough missing his points and assists and rebounds and his toughness," Bozeman said. "He's the grittiest guy we got."
THE BIG PICTURE
Morgan State: The Bears haven't had a winning season since 2012-13 and although they don't appear headed for one this year, they'll have chances in the MEAC. Only North Coastal Central (7-5) has a winning record and the other 12 teams combined for a 35-116 record heading into Wednesday.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions dominated in every facet and looked more like the up-tempo team that started the season averaging 85 points over its first four. Coach Pat Chambers hoped a starting lineup that includes three freshmen would continue to rely on physical defense to dictate a fast offensive pace. Chambers has to be pleased as his team played its best defensive game of the season with the Big Ten opener up next.
Morgan State plays at Loyola Marymount (6-3) on Monday.
Penn State hosts Northwestern (10-2) in the Big Ten opener for both teams on Tuesday.