Shep Garner wore a smile after Penn State’s lead ballooned to 26 points in the first half of its NIT semifinals matchup Tuesday night.
Garner had just knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the night, bringing a matching smile to the face of teammate Lamar Stevens on the bench. It was the Nittany Lions’ fifth 3-pointer of the second quarter and part of a decisive run as they ran away with a 75-60 win over Mississippi State at Madison Square Garden. The Nittany Lions scored the first 19 points of the second quarter — part of a 24-0 run in the first half — to repeatedly bring the fans to their feet.
Tony Carr finished with 21 points, five assists and six rebounds to lead Penn State. Garner scored 18 points, while Stevens had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Penn State led 13-11 before turning the game into a rout with the 24-0 run. The Nittany Lions led 18-11 after the first quarter and went 7 for 8 from the field — including five 3-pointers — to build a 37-11 lead.
The Nittany Lions (25-13) led by as many as 27 to finish the blowout win.
Player of the game
Penn State guard Shep Garner: Garner led Penn State’s performance from beyond the arc to bury Mississippi State. The senior guard finished 6 for 9 from beyond the arc and became the program’s career leader in 3-pointers. He now has 334 3-pointers, surpassing Pete Lisicky’s mark of 332. Penn State finished 11 for 20 from beyond the arc Tuesday.
MSU struggles offensively
It wasn’t all about the long-range shot during Penn State’s dominant first half. The Bulldogs shot just 36 percent from the field and committed nine turnovers in the first two quarters.
For the game, Mississippi State shot 39.6 percent from the field while finishing with seven assists and 11 turnovers. Penn State shot 49.2 percent, had 18 assists and committed eight turnovers.
Carr earns AP All-America honors
Carr was an honorable mention selection to the AP All-America team announced Tuesday. The Penn State guard went into the game against Mississippi State averaging a team-high 19.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds. Carr led the Big Ten in scoring in conference games with 20.1 points. He also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this season.
The Nittany Lions will take on Utah in the NIT championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday. Utah beat Western Kentucky 69-64 to advance to the championship. Justin Bibbins scored 19 points to lead four Utah players in double figures Tuesday night.