When Tony Carr faces smaller defenders, he looks to capitalize in the post.
The point guard, who is listed at 6-foot-3 on Penn State’s roster, can burn opponents by using his height advantage to attack the rim or create for teammates in the paint. He studies film to see where he can be effective in those situations, and he applied what he saw during back-to-back games with at least 20 points and seven assists last week.
His height allows him to produce in the post, but he thinks he’s even taller than 6-foot-3 — definitely 6-foot-4, if not 6-foot-5, he said before adding that some opposing guards don’t live up to their official height.
“I’ve definitely been looking at guys on scout film that say 6-1 and then we get to the game and it’s like, ‘He’s not 6-1,’” Carr said Monday at the team’s media availability. “So I definitely want to make that a point to get that changed.”
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Whether he’s 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-5, Carr is thriving going into the Nittany Lions’ final home game of the regular season against Ohio State (16-13, 6-10 Big Ten) at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Carr is leading Penn State (14-15, 6-10) in scoring with 13.2 points per game and assists with 4.1 per game after his standout performances against Purdue and Minnesota last week.
“I would say my confidence is at an all-time high as far as this season goes,” Carr said.
Carr is among the tallest point guards in the Big Ten — only Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh also stand at 6-foot-3 — while eight point guards are listed at 6-foot-1 or shorter.
Carr showed off his ability in the post against the Boilermakers.
With his team trailing Purdue by seven late in the second half, Carr backed down 5-foot-10 guard P.J. Thompson and spun baseline, forcing 6-foot-9 forward Caleb Swanigan to provide help at the rim. Carr gave a pump fake to get Swanigan in the air and finished a layup. He took advantage of the matchup with the smaller Thompson to hit the game-tying jumper over him in the lane with 17 seconds left.
The shot capped a stretch in which Carr scored 12 of his team’s 14 points in the final five minutes of regulation and sent the game to overtime.
After Carr’s 21-point, seven-assist effort in the overtime loss to Purdue, Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said he’s asking his point guard to be more vocal.
“That is important even though he’s a freshman,” Chambers said last week. “We told him he’s a leader now, he’s a captain now, so go out and lead as well.
“That’s a lot to put on one kid’s shoulder, but I feel like he’s playing at a very high level and he’s playing with great confidence. And as long as you have that recipe, he can do anything for us.”
He continued to be a playmaker out of the post at Minnesota.
Twice, he posted up against 6-foot-2 guard Nate Mason to generate easy opportunities for Nittany Lions forward Mike Watkins.
Each time, he started backing down Mason on the perimeter before quickly penetrating into the paint to draw help from a Golden Gophers big man. Each time, he left off a pass for Watkins to finish inside as part of his 20-point, seven-assist performance.
“It looks like he knows what he’s doing,” Watkins said of Carr’s post game.
Carr said he tried to make the post a focal point of his game when he arrived at Penn State. He said it’s made the game easier for him as he can isolate defenders where it’s hard for opponents to double him.
Chambers praised Carr’s feel for the game Monday, adding that he has a great understanding of the offense and pointing out he can play anywhere on the floor.
Said Chambers: “He’s playing at a very, very high level.”
Notes: Chambers said Monday that Nazeer Bostick, who is out with a fractured right hand, will be checked out Monday, March 6. The Big Ten tournament will be March 8-12 in Washington, D.C. ... Ohio State is coming off an 83-73 win over then-No. 16 Wisconsin last Thursday. C.J. Jackson scored a career-high 18 points against the Badgers. ... Buckeyes center Trevor Thompson ranks second in the Big Ten with 9.1 rebounds per game and tied for fifth with 1.6 blocks.
Ohio State at Penn State
When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
Radio: WQWK 1450