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After Penn State's 1-21 performance from three-point territory on Tuesday against St. Joseph's, it's hard to blame Fairfield coach Ed Cooley for forcing the Nittany Lions to shoot his team out of its 2-3 zone to win.
Nevertheless, the Lions made Cooley and his Stags pay big time as they hit 9-22 three-pointers on route to a 64-49 win at the Bryce Jordan Center Friday night.
"We looked at their last tape, they didn't really shoot the ball well from three," Cooley said after the game. "So you've got to give them credit, making eight more threes than they did the last game. I thought that was the real key to this game."
The offensive success wasn't limited to three point territory either, though. Penn State shot 41% for the game overall and got a near double-double from center Andrew Jones who tallied eight points on the night with 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Penn State also had success in the defensive end, holding an opponent under 50 points for the first time this season after coming close twice against Lehigh and St. Joseph's. The Lions out-rebounded the Stags 41-40 and forced 16 turnovers in the victory.
Books said after the game that he believed ball containment, ball pressure, help defense and communication were all important for Penn State and he was pleased with the defensive efforts.
"I don't know what they had when the starters went out, like 39 points or something like that?" Brooks said. "Fairfield's a very talented team so for us to be able to contain them from scoring a lot of transition buckets and a lot of dribble drives, I just feel good about it."
No Stags registered double figure scoring against Penn State and as a team, Fairfield managed only 10 assists. The Stags were the preseason pick to with the MAAC heading into the season, but now sit 1-2.
DeChellis pointed to Tim Frazier's performance covering Fairfield's guards, but didn't limit his praise to the sophomore.
"Overall I think our team defense has been pretty good," DeChellis said. "We're doing a good job of stepping up and taking some charges, I think we're doing a pretty good job of rotations. I think we're doing a decent job of containing the ball."
All of those things will have to continue for Penn State when the Lions host Central Connecticut State on Monday at the BJC. The Blue Devils are 2-0 and averaging 82 points per game as a team including a 101 point performance against Army last Monday.
Overall, DeChellis is pleased with his team's play thus far but is taking a measured approach to looking at the progress.
"We've only played three games," DeChellis said. "This is a long, long year. There will be times when guys don't play well and other guys will have to step up and make some plays for us.
Andrew Jones flushes a Taran Buie miss. Another quietly solid night for the senior center with eight points and 11 rebounds to this point. He's consistently pulling down those boards this year. The scoring isn't always there, but as long as he's grabbing rebounds, he's going to be serving his purpose.
Tre Bowman just tried to play football with Taran Bue, throwing a baseball inbound pass...it didn't work.
Penn State holds Fairfield under 50 points, a true testament to just how poorly the Stags looked on offense and yet another sign that Penn State is playing pretty darn well defensively to start this season. No team has topped 60 points on the Lions yet, so good signs for Ed DeChellis and the coaching staff even as the offense continues to look for an identity.
Final Score: Penn State 64, Fairfield 49.
I'm heading down to the press room and will have more later. Until then, stay classy folks.
Gotta figure Jeff Brooks and Talor won't be around much longer with Penn State up 20 points and in really no threat to lose this game, though I'm sure Ed DeChellis wants to see some good offense for as long as he can after Tuesday night's debacle against St. Joseph's.
Cammeron Woodyard continues to see serious minutes.
Fairfield uses a timeout to set up a 3/4 court trap and it works as Penn State turns the ball over the first time, however, Battle just got free behind it and nailed a jumper from the elbow.
Jeff Brooks now has a career high 19 points after a free throw. He and Talor Battle alone are outscoring the Stags right now.
Taran Buie finally returns with 4:10 to play, replacing Battle. Bubby is probably done for the night.
With 3:57 to play, Penn State leads 57-35.
The women's volleyball team won 3-0 again tonight. The Nittany Lions are now yet another step closer to a Big Ten championship.
Fairfield has completely abandoned its 2-3 defense. Probably the one good decision the Stags have made this half. Absolutely nothing going right for them right now.
Fairfield just lost Talor Battle on an inbound play. I'm pretty sure every scouting report ever written about this Penn State team has said "Stop No. 12" yet between the 2-3 garbage to start the game and losing him there, this team doesn't seem to care what Battle does.
The Stags finally hit a three and break through 30 points with seven and change to play. Unfathomably poor offense by Fairfield tonight.
With 6:57 remaining, it's 52-32 Penn State.
Livin' On A Prayer won the text vote tonight. Thank God it wasn't Lady Gaga.
Talor Battle has officially passed DeRon Hayes for fifth on the all-time scoring list. He has 1,572 at the moment. Former teammate Jamelle Cornley is fourth at 1,579, so we might see him break that plateau, too, by the end of the night.
Really ugly possession for Fairfield just now. The Stags took bad shots and missed badly. They're still not on a 50-point pace, though that's been a common occurrence for Penn State opponents lately.
Jeff Brooks hits another three for Penn State. Lions are now 7-14 from the arc tonight, markedly better from the other night...and Talor Battle hits one. 8-15 now. Boom.
Fairfield just continues to clank misses badly. Really ugly offense from this team. Hard to believe this is the best team from a decent MAAC.
Penn State starting to pull away. It's 46-29 Penn State with 11:00 to play in the game.
David Jackson opens the half with a nice jumper from the top of the key. He's been pretty quiet thus far scoring only two points in 14 minutes but maybe that bucket will get him going. He's averaging in double figures right now, one of three Nittany Lions doing so thus far.
Not a lot of defensive fouls being called right now. The two teams have attempted less than 10 foul shots combined right now.
The Lions are getting a little sloppy on offense now, chucking the thing all over the place and not establishing any kind of offensive flow. Talor Battle just blew a layup on a one-on-three fast break. The Stags aren't out of this game yet, so it's probably not the best time to be doing that.
Jeff Brooks has five points this half. He's pacing Penn State again and looks like the only guy interested in attacking the basket in the half court right now.
Nice backdown-hook shot by Andrew Jones for two.
With 15:10 to play, it's Penn State 37-26
Penn State only has 26 points at the half tonight, but they look infinitely better on the offensive side of the ball than they did against St. Joseph's. They're still only shooting 34% but they're spreading the ball around and getting better shots. If the Lions keep that up in the second half, they should win this one pretty comfortably.
Tim Frazier continues to be invisible out there. He played 17 minutes in the first half and attempted one shot from the field and has scored one point. He had a rough game the other night and it looks like he's still kind of in a rut right now.
Fairfield has pretty balanced scoring tonight. Unfortunately for the Stags, their top scorer only has five points. The Stags look as dazed in their offensive end as any opponent Penn State has faced this year, and that includes East Stroudsburg in the exhibition game a couple weeks ago.
The in-game entertainment people just brought out the new mounted revolving t-shirt gun for the first time and it failed miserably. Probably only fired one of the t-shirts. If they can get that thing working, though, it's going to be pretty sweet.
Another offensive foul called on Fairfield. These guys are really confused.
Fairfield is now employing a half-court trap before it falls back into the 2-3. Interesting stuff. This is the first time Penn State has seen some of these sets this year and thus far the Lions are playing pretty well against them.
Penn State is forcing a lot of turnovers on defense as usual. Fairfield already has nine cough ups.
Fairfield has switched to man to finish the half coming out of their use-it-or-lose-it timeout.
Drew Jones just drew a technical. Not sure what happened. Might have been jawing with the refs as it was called after a scrum for a rebound.
It's halftime: 26-18 Penn State at the Jordan Center.
Cammeron Woodyard getting some minutes in the first half here. He looked brutal the other night, shooting 0-7 from the field including a couple of blocked shots...o and look at that, the junior hits a three as I'm typing that. Woodyard certainly isn't the most talented player on this team, but he's way better than 0-7. I'm sure he's hoping to use these minutes tonight to get back on track.
Fairfield is starting to look a little confused in their half court offense. The Stags just used most of a clock only to have a guard drive into four Penn State defenders, drawing a charge. That's not good basketball and that's exactly what Ed DeChellis wants them to do. If Fairfield keeps playing like that, it's not going to hang around for very long in this game.
Fairfield is employing a 2-3 defense against Penn State so it's no wonder the Lions have started 5-7 as of now from three point territory. I realize Penn State had a tough game the other night, but man alive, did the Stag coaching staff watch the Michigan State game a couple years ago? Talor Battle can hit a three against a 2-3 zone.
With 3:49 left to play in the half, it's Penn State 24-17
Taran Bue enters the game coming out of the timeout. He needs to attack the basket tonight. He was 3-4 from inside the paint against St. Joseph's but 0-4 from deep. The freshman is much stronger off the bounce, so he needs to work on that this evening.
Billy Oliver hits another deep shot. It was only a two-pointer, but man, for a forward his jumper looks really good early. We haven't seen much of it because Billy has been hampered by headaches early in his Penn State career, but it looks like he's got some range. Hopefully that means more scoring from him, but also more room for Talor Battle to operate in the paint, as defenses will have to account for Oliver on the outside.
Fairfield has been hit with a couple offensive fouls in this segment. You'd have to think Penn State will start getting hit with those calls at some point, too.
With 7:37 to play in the half, the Lions lead the Stags 19-12
Penn State finally slows things down on its first possession coming out of the timeout and Talor Battle calmly sticks a three from the far corner. On the second possession, he comes down and hits another, so Penn State already has more treys in the first eight minutes of this game than it had in all 40 minutes against St. Joseph's on Tuesday.
Fairfield's coach is an adamant guy on the sideline. I can hear his every word all the way up here.
Billy Oliver is Penn State's first sub, replacing David Jackson who just blew a lay up. Oliver had a quiet night against St. Joe's, so it'll be interesting to see if he bounces back after five points in the opener.
Penn State's offense scored 13 points in that segment with three deep ones. The offense looks a lot more balanced tonight, though more of the deeper shots are going right now.
With 11:13 to play in the half, Penn State leads Fairfield 17-10.
Sparse crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center tonight as many of the students have left for Thanksgiving break. It's mostly locals and students who have hung around only to head down to Washington for the football game tomorrow. Speaking of the football game, it's left press row nearly empty. Not sure if any of the newspapers are here tonight. Even Steve Jones, Penn State's regular play-by-play announcer is absent.
Penn State is really pushing the pace early, and taking some shots early in the shot clock. They're getting pretty good looks too. Jeff Brooks hit a three to open the scoring for Penn State this evening. Hopefully, for the Lions' sake, they don't miss the next 20 in a row again.
Penn State still looking very good in half court defense early on. The Lions are forcing the turnover and keeping the ball outside the paint for the most part. We'll see if Penn State's excellent defense to this point in the season continues tonight.
It's 4-4 with 15:12 remaining in the half.
Here are the probably starting lineups for Penn State's game against Fairfield tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center.
G-Derek Needham, 13.5 points per game
G-Colin Nickerson, 8.5
F-Yorel Hawkins, 5.5
F-Warren Edney, 10.0
F-Ryan Olander, 6.0
G-Talor Battle, 18.0 points per game
G-Tim Frazier, 3.0
F-David Jackson, 12.5
F-Andrew Jones, 4.0
F-Jeff Brooks, 14.0
Talor Battle will make his nation-leading 98th start for Penn State tonight. With 17 points tonight, the senior point guard could move into 4th place on Penn State's all-time leading scoring list.
Penn State is 9-4 all-time against teams from the state of Connecticut. The Lions will play Fairfield and then host Central Connecticut State next week at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Stags are only 1-8 all-time against Big Ten teams.
Penn State looks to move to 3-0 tonight for the third time under head coach Ed DeChellis. The last six times Penn State has started the season 3-0, the Nittany Lions earned a post-season berth.
Penn State assistant coach Lewis Prestion did a primer video over at the Penn State All-Sports Blog.
Penn State takes on Fairfield at 7:30 in the Bryce Jordan Center tonight looking to run its record to 3-0 early in the season. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Lions will be looking to play better on offense this evening after posting a 1-21 effort from three-point territory on Tuesday against St. Joseph's.
At 7:30 tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center, the Lions will take on Fairfield with hopes their post offense will continue to carry the team if their shooting remains cold.
"Coach preaches getting the ball inside and we’ve really been trying to do that with [Jackson and Brooks]," senior Talor Battle said. "They are really putting the ball in the hole so hopefully they can continue that."
Even though Battle leads the team with 18 points per game so far, he hasn’t found his shot yet through the first two games. He has made only 11-of-29 shots — less than 38 percent — while going 3-for-14 from 3-point range.
Fairfield is 1-1 thus far in 2010-2011. The Stags beat Sacred Heart last Saturday but fell to Rutgers on Tuesday. Fairfield has been picked to win the MAAC and will likely be one of if not the biggest test Penn State has faced thus far in the early going.
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