STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Myreon Jones lived up to his nickname on Wednesday night.
The Penn State sophomore, dubbed “Buckets” by his teammates, drained a career-best 22 points to lead Penn State over Wake Forest 76-54 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Lamar Stevens added 14 points and Izaiah Brockington had 13 for the Nittany Lions (7-1), who never trailed and led by as many as 31 with 6:16 to play.
Olivier Sarr scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds while Andrien White had 10 points for the Demon Deacons (5-4), who trailed 41-23 at halftime after Jones poured it on.
Jones had 16 points in the opening 20 minutes and finished the night 8-for-13 shooting from the floor.
Good defense helped, and the Nittany Lions played sturdy on the backend all night. It was particularly smothering in the first eight minutes.
Mike Watkins, who finished with seven points, 16 rebounds and five blocks, started the game with a block in the corner before the Nittany Lions turned six turnovers, including five steals, into 10 points and a 14-4 lead.
“I thought our defense set the tone for this game,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “We defended. We rebounded. We really challenged our team.”
An alley-oop from Chaundee Brown to Sharone Wright Jr. snapped the Demon Deacons out of their lull. It sparked a 16-11 run over the next 5:12 that cut their deficit to 25-20. They wouldn’t get any closer as Penn State went on an 16-3 run to close out the half.
“They came out and delivered the first blow,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball. The (turnovers) led to a lot of run-outs for them in transition.”
The Nittany Lions got 27 points off the bench. A particularly helpful batch came at the end of the first half and blew the game open.
Jones was the only starter left on the floor when Penn State sank five-straight baskets — including two from graduate transfer Curtis Jones and a 3-pointer from “Buckets” — in the final three minutes.
Brockington led all bench scorers and added five rebounds, an assist and a steal in just under 22 minutes of playing time.
Brandon Childress entered the game as Wake Forest’s leading scorer, drilling 16.9 per game. He was a non-factor in 25:29 played. Penn State held the guard scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting.
“I watched a ton of film on him,” Chambers said. “Very shifty. Very crafty. Finds ways to produce points for himself.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were sloppy early and never recovered. The comfort of home might help as they’ve played their last six on the road.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions haven’t had much success against current Atlantic Coast Conference teams but improved to 151-193 with this one that was never really close. They’ve won their last nine home games dating to last season.
Wake Forest hosts North Carolina State on Saturday.
Penn State visits No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday.
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