STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — It was all about Lamar Stevens and Saturday he showed why he is a special player.
Stevens wrote a children’s book which was handed to fans before No. 22 Penn State’s game against the Gophers. Even though the book has been written, Stevens is still adding chapters to his prolific career.
Stevens followed his pregame induction into Penn State’s 2,000-point club with a career-high 33 points to lead No. 22 the Nittany Lions over Minnesota 83-77 at Happy Valley.
Izaiah Brockington chipped in 10 points for the Nittany Lions (18-5, 8-4 Big Ten) who squashed Minnesota in the waning minutes to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.
“Lamar had that look in his eye that a senior gets when he knows you’re running out of games and we’ve got to keep winning. “He’s really playing both sides of the floor.” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
PSU sprinted out to an 11-4 run, scoring all their points in the paint area to set the tone to the game.
Daniel Oturu scored the next six points to cut Penn State’s lead to 11-10 before PSU’s offense got back on track with back-to-back treys from Stevens and Myles Dread.
Oturu made a layup before Stevens, just one of three Nittany Lions to reach 2,000 points, hit a pair of free throws to give Penn State a 36-22 lead at the break.
Daniel had a career-high 32 points and snatched 16 rebounds while Mike Carr added 20 points for the Golden Gophers (12-11, 6-7 Big Ten). Minnesota was down by as many as 19 points with 15:53 to play in the game before Carr found his spot on the court and single-handedly cut into Penn State’s lead.
Carr scored only one basket to that point, hit 18 of Minnesota’s next 22 points in a five minutes span. His play pulled the Gophers within eight points with 10:21 left in the contest.
Minnesota kept pushing and cut the deficit to 71-68 with 4:48 to play but couldn’t get any closer.
The Nittany Lions went on a 23-10 run in the half’s closing minutes where Brockington got loose on a fastbreak and finished with a left-handed jam that put Penn State up by 14 points and closed the game out.
“We got really, really stretched out,” Pitino said. “We got tired. Instead of providing great team defense, they were able to drive into the lane.”