The No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions outscored No. 7 Texas A&M in the first round of Thursday night’s NCAA Men’s Tournament, winning 76-59 in Des Moines, Iowa. Here’s what you need to know:
- The win marks the Nittany Lions’ first NCAA tournament win since 2001.
- This is Penn State’s second appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2010.
- The Nittany Lions will face Texas in the second round, with a spot in the Sweet Sixteen on the line.
AthleticismInstant analysis of:
How did Penn State get the win?
Penn State had a smart game plan and executed it perfectly. Offensively, the Nittany Lions put the ball in the hands of Jalen Pickett, and Pickett waited for the Aggies to cheat, then found shooters. Usually that shooter was Andrew Funk, who made a career-high eight 3s and scored 27 points. Pickett was a midrange killer, scoring 19 points to go along with his eight assists.
Texas A&M seemed confused all night trying to figure out Penn State’s defense. The Nittany Lions dropped the non-shooters and played what looked like a zone that would turn into a showdown zone and then eventually a man-to-man defense. — Moore
How Penn State takes on Texas
Penn State is a very difficult team to associate stylistically because of all its shooters around Pickett, who is one of the toughest covers in the country. If you don’t help him, he’ll get into the paint and make some tough strokes. Send help and he will find shooters. Texas will need to be able to limit 3s and will need good plays from their post players.
The Longhorns aren’t as easy to guard, however, as they have more shooters and playmakers on the perimeter than A&M. They also have better individual defenders. Still, it could be a great game if Funk and Pickett stay hot. — Moore
Penn State earned the No. 10 seed at this year’s NCAA Tournament after reaching the Big Ten Tournament Finals. This is Penn State’s 10th appearance in the NCAA Men’s Tournament.
Funk led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. Pickett (19 points) and Seth Lundy (10 points) also posted double-digit points.
Thursday’s victory was Penn State’s largest margin of victory in program history at the NCAA Tournament (17 points). With a victory over Texas on Saturday, the Nittany Lions will advance to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2001.
Climax of the game
(Photo: Jeffrey Becker/USA Today)