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Nittany Lions fall behind, routed by Boilermakers

UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State men’s basketball team (8-13, 5-12) played a close second half, but Purdue’s (16-8, 11-6) hot shooting in the first period provided all it needed for the 73-52 win Friday in the Bryce Jordan Center. Junior guard Myreon Jones scored eight of his team-best 11 points in the second period while three other Nittany Lions, senior forward John Harrar, senior guard Jamari Wheeler and junior guard Myles Dread had nine points each on the night.

Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic had a game-high 16 points as four Boilermaker starters finished the night in double figures. Aaron Wheeler picked up a game-high seven rebounds as Purdue won the battle of the boards 41-28.

The Boilermakers offensive efficiency in the paint provided 40 points and accounted for 55% of their scoring effort in Friday’s contest. Purdue started the game 10-13 for 76.9 percent from the field and cooled to 58.1 percent for the first half. The Boilers finished the game at 51.9 percent.

“You have to give Purdue a lot of credit, they looked really fresh, they were flying around the court today, and they really set the tone defensively and we struggled, we struggled with everything,” said Penn State men’s basketball interim head coach Jim Ferry. “I thought we looked a little fatigued right at the start of the game. We made our run back at them, those two times we had the runs that we came back, I thought we looked gassed…and we could never get over the hump…We haven’t played like this all year…just disappointed and disappointed for the guys. I think we got to get a little more rest here before the stretch run.”

Trailing 41-26 at the half, the Nittany Lions made their first five shots, three by Harrar, to open the second period to cut into the Boilermakers lead. After their first their first five makes, Penn State went 0-8 from the field before Harrar made a layup and converted the free throw. Purdue used drought to build its lead to 22 points, 36-58, before Harrar’s field goal.

Jones connected on the next four field goals for Penn State while Purdue missed shots and committed turnovers during a six-minute stretch, but the double-digit lead was too much to overcome.

Wheeler had a team-best six rebounds and added six assists and four steals. He moved into 14th place on Penn State’s all-time assists list with 319 assists.

The Boilermakers strung together scoring runs while the Nittany Lions struggled to score consistently to build a 41-26 lead at the half.

The game was tied at 9 and 11 before Purdue made four of its next five field goals, including two by Jaden Ivey, for a 20-13 Boilermaker lead. Zach Edey finished the 13-2 scoring run with two-straight baskets for a 24-13 score in favor of Purdue.

The Boilermakers were shooting 77 percent at the midway point of the half before Dread started an 8-0 run for Penn State with two treys and Izaiah Brockington added a jumper to pull the Nittany Lions within three, 24-21, at the 8:40 mark.

The Boilermakers used a 9-0 run to push their lead back to 12, 33-21, with 3:13 to play in the half. Jones ended the run with a strong take to the basket and converted an and-one. Wheeler split to Boilermaker defense for a layup to quickly cut the lead to seven, 33-26. Purdue finished the half on an 8-0 run to take the 15-point lead into the locker room.

The Nittany Lions play host to Minnesota on March 3 at 7 p.m. ET with a senior night celebration planned.

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