BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — How impressive was Penn State’s performance Tuesday night? The Nittany Lions’ leading scorer for the season did not manage a point – and they still rolled by 20.
Izaiah Brockington had a career-high 24 points and Penn State dominated on both ends of the court for a 75-55 victory over No. 15 Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Brockington hit 10 of 14 from the floor, including two 3-pointers for the Nittany Lions (3-1), who used a 17-0 run early in the first half to grab the lead and never trailed again.
Jalen Cone paced the Hokies (4-1) with 11 points. Virginia Tech, which shot just 37% (20 of 54), had won 34 straight non-conference games on its home floor.
Penn State played a near-flawless first half, shooting 18 of 35 from the field and forcing 10 turnovers while not committing a single one. Behind Brockington’s 15 points, the Nittany Lions led 42-23 at halftime even though leading scorer Seth Lundy did not score. Lundy, who was averaging 22.3 points per game coming in, went scoreless in the game.
“I thought we came out and showed who we can really be,” Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry said. “We put a 40-minute game together. We defended with discipline, we were connected the whole way, and it just leads to offensively just sharing the basketball and playing off each other.”
The Nittany Lions were nearly as good in the second half. They followed their six 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes with another half-dozen in the final 20. They ended any hopes of a Virginia Tech comeback early in the second half by making seven of their first nine shots, including four 3s. Myles Dread’s 3-pointer with 13:21 remaining gave Penn State a 63-34 lead – its largest of the game.
“They popped us right in the mouth, and we didn’t respond very well,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “And that’s a concern. We’ll get back after it (Wednesday) and figure some things out.”
Myreon Jones added 14 points for Penn State, and Dread finished with 11. The Nittany Lions shot a season-high 50% (30 of 60) and hit 12 3-pointers.
The Hokies figure to fall several spots after a lopsided home loss to an unranked opponent and might drop out of the Top 25 completely.
The Nittany Lions played with a lot of energy and were the aggressors right from the start. Their pressure defense rattled Virginia Tech, and they scored 14 points in the first half off Hokies turnovers (22 for the game). It was the perfect response after Penn State squandered a 19-point lead Sunday in an overtime loss to Seton Hall.
The Hokies shot poorly for the second consecutive game, tied a season high with 14 turnovers and provided little resistance on defense. A telling moment came early in the second half when Nahiem Alleyne shot an open jumper, and the ball got stuck between the rim and backboard. Virginia Tech simply played its worst game of the season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Penn State entered averaging 10.7 steals per game, which ranked 18th nationally. The Nittany Lions had six steals and six blocked shots against the Hokies, part of a tremendous all-around performance.
“Today’s game was about trying to wear these guys out,” Ferry said.
The win over the Hokies marked the 1,500th in the history of Penn State basketball.
The Nittany Lions open Big Ten play at Michigan on Sunday.
The Hokies begin ACC play with a home game against Clemson next Tuesday.
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