UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (AP) — Jamari Wheeler scored a career-high 18 points and Penn State used a 17-3 run early in the second half on Saturday to break away for an 86-65 win over VMI in Jim Ferry's first game as the Nittany Lions coach.
Ferry, a veteran coach who was an assistant the past four years, replaced Pat Chambers on Oct. 21 when Chambers resigned following a school investigation into inappropriate conduct. Chambers was the head coach for nine seasons, compiling a 148-150 record and won the 2018 NIT championship. The Nittany Lions were 21-10 last year and expected to get their first NCAA berth since 2011.
Penn State was up 37-35 at halftime and trailed 45-44 with 15:26 to play following Kamdyn Curfman 3-pointer. The Nittany Lions reeled off nine points before another Curfman 3, then scored eight more. Izaiah Brockington had six of his 15 points points in the surge.
Three players added 12 points for Penn State, which shot 51% in the second half and hit seven 3-pointers. Wheeler had four 3-pointers and five steals, which moved him past Shep Garner for 10th in career steals with 152.
Greg Parham led the Keydets (1-1) with 21 points and Curfman had 17, hitting five 3s.
VMI coach Dan Earl was a star guard and assistant coach at Penn State. His first game against the Nittany Lions was the 2015-16 season opener.
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