STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State Basketball held off the Butler Bulldogs 68-62 despite not playing their best basketball offensively for large stretches of the game.
Despite reverting to some of last year’s tendencies, Penn State benefitted from some miserable Butler Bulldog shooting (23-67, 5-23 for 3) to move to 3-0 with the Charleston Classic upcoming this Thursday.
Penn State Basketball started the same 5 as the previous three games (Caleb Dorsey, Seth Lundy, Andrew Funk, Cam Wynter and Jalen Pickett) to face off their first real competition of the year.
The Nittany Lions opened with a two three pointers from Dorsey and Lundy (to no one’s surprise) and used some pace as Butler opened cold (2-of-8 from the field), giving the Nittany Lions an early 10-4 lead at the first media timeout. Butler continued some ugly shooting (2/12) before finally ending a 12-0 PSU run, but the Nittany Lions still led 17-6 before a classic #BJCclockissue forced a media timeout.
Things slowed as Penn State Basketball resorted to some of last year’s offensive tactics (see: Pickett dribbling and forcing) but Butler stayed ice cold from the field (8/29, 1/11 from 3), retaining the Nittany Lions lead at 8.
The pace had moved more to the Bulldogs preference, but a combination of stout Penn State defense and Butler simply missing open looks was crucial.
Penn State Basketball continued to be overly reliant on Pickett driving as Butler chipped away at the lead to 5 with 36 seconds left. A Lundy turnover, a Butler missed layup and a Wynter follow off a Funk missed 3 gave Penn State a 33-26 lead at the half.
Some very ugly Butler shooting (11/34 and 2/12 from three) allowed Penn State to lead despite playing by far their worst half of the season.
Thad Matta clearly won the battle of the halftime adjustments and the Bulldogs pounded it inside for a quick 6-0 run to start the half and off a rare offensive rebound, tied the game at 38.
Butler took a two point lead but personal 5-0 Funk run and a Wynter layup gave the Lions back a 3 point lead. ANOTHER Funk three pushed the lead to 4 as the crowd rose to their feet!
Pickett came in off the bench and made two tough buckets to extend the lead to a half high of 8 and back to back Pickett and Dread three’s forced a Matt timeout down 60-46 with 6:20 to go, all but ending the game.
Some sloppy play kept the game close as Penn State Basketball turned the ball over multiple times and allowed Butler to score with the clock stopped from the free throw line with silly fouls.
Butler cut the lead to 64-59 with 56.6 seconds to play. Wynter missed the front end of a 1-1 but the Nittany Lions turned over Butler and Lundy slammed it home (although he probably should have pulled it out to burn more clock).
The Bulldogs rimmed in a three to cut the lead down to four and immediately called timeout, capping an odd 13-4 run. Wynter made both this time, ending the game (and a PSU cover) and win.