Josh Reaves couldn’t remember when he fell asleep after getting back from Penn State’s loss at Purdue on Sunday night.
When he arrived home, he watched the replay of the Nittany Lions’ game on Big Ten Network. Reaves was upset with his performance, saying he didn’t do what he could have to help the team win. As he watched the replay, he saw what he could have done better.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Reaves said Monday. “I just kept thinking about it over and over.”
Reaves put the loss to then-No. 6 Purdue behind him Monday morning, turning his focus to Penn State’s next game against No. 17 Michigan (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions (19-10, 9-7) will look to bounce back and take advantage of their opportunities against the Wolverines and Nebraska in the final week of the regular season. With six wins in its last eight games, Penn State is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and receiving national attention. The Nittany Lions picked up six votes in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll.
“I’d rather get votes now than in November,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “We’re headed in the right direction. We just got to keep getting better.”
The Nittany Lions challenged the Boilermakers on Sunday night. Penn State rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half, tying the game with 7:01 left to set up a tight finish in a 76-73 loss.
“We just kept fighting when things weren’t going our way,” Reaves said. “That’s one of the loudest arenas I’ve ever been in, and we fought through that adversity.”
Strong play off the bench helped Penn State stay in the game against Purdue.
Nittany Lions forward Mike Watkins was limited to nine minutes due to foul trouble, and Chambers was pleased with the contributions from reserve big men Julian Moore, Satchel Pierce and John Harrar. Moore finished 3 for 3 from the field for six points in 14 minutes.
Chambers has talked to his players about being an “all-star” in their role, and he’s seen the bench provide production in the past six games.
“As the year progresses along, there’s certain things that a team needs you to do,” Chambers said. “We knew who our leading scorers were going to be. We knew who our top rebounder was going to be. We knew who our defensive guy was going to be, but then off the bench, it kind of organically happens.”
Moore, Pierce and Harrar have provided minutes and depth in the frontcourt, while guards Jamari Wheeler and Nazeer Bostick have been part of the rotation in the backcourt. The Nittany Lions understand their roles and have committed to them on their way to becoming a factor nationally at the end of the regular season.
“We’re playing good basketball,” Reaves said. “We’re doing what we need to do. We’re playing to the very end. We’re playing Penn State basketball. We’re trying to do it for 40 minutes, and people find that exciting.”
Notes: Tony Carr was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. It was the first time he received the honor in his career. Carr scored 30 points in Penn State’s win over Ohio State last week, and had 19 points, five assists and five rebounds against Purdue. … Michigan is coming off a 74-62 win over Ohio State, part of a three-game winning streak.