The Penn State Nittany Lions are predominately a football and women’s volleyball school. Their basketball team has left much to be desired, and is generally found toward the bottom of the Big 10 Conference at the end of each season. This season, however, has a slightly different feel under third-year head coach Pat Chambers.
The Nittany Lions had a whopping two wins in conference play last season, which is borderline atrocious even by Penn State basketball standards. The current Penn State squad, however, has not looked like a Big 1o pushover in the early going. The Nittany Lions had their best non-conference showing in five years, giving their fan base hope for a potential tournament birth.
Tuesday evening Penn State welcomed the Michigan State Spartans into the Bryce Jordan Center for their first matchup in the Big 10 Conference. After a three-point barrage in the first half, the Lions took a seven-point lead into the locker room. For that 20 minutes, the Lions looked like a legitimate contender in the Big 10.
The second half was a different story. After scoring 47 points in the first half, the Lions were only able to muster 16 points in the second. Penn State needed 40 minutes of sharp play, but could only manage to get 20 of good basketball. While Penn State fans may be disappointed in the second half letdown, the game was still highly competitive. That competitive fire has been missing from this program for a long time, and it appears after a long sabbatical that the Nittany Lions are back to being competitive in the Big 10 Conference.
Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.