STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Patrick Chambers has talked about his players “earning the right” to shoot during Penn State’s non-conference schedule.
By that, he means a player who puts in extra time in the offseason and after practice earns the right to take a shot when he’s open.
On Sunday, it was forward Brandon Taylor’s turn to earn the right to shoot, and shoot often.
Taylor scored a career-high 25 points as Penn State (4-1) surged in the second half to dispatch Longwood (2-3) 93-67.
“I don’t know what his percentages are off the top of my head, but they have to be good, from two and from three,” Chambers said.
“We always talk about earning the right. If you’re going to come in extra, you’re going to shoot extra, you’re going to make shots in the game. It’s really that simple. If you put the preparation in, there’s no stress, no worry. Rhythm shots — take ’em. He’s earned the right to take 16 shots.”
Taylor was joined in double figures by D.J. Newbill with 23 points and Ross Travis, with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Taylor’s performance comes on the heels of forward Donovan Jack’s career-high 18 points in Penn State’s 79-72 win over LaSalle on Tuesday.
“I thought going into the game that their post guys would pose a unique problem for us,” Longwood coach Jayson Gee said. “I don’t believe we’ll be the only team to struggle with their ability to shoot the ball deep.”
The unselfish Nittany Lions (4-1) piled up 25 assists, eight by point guard Tim Frazier and seven by Newbill, who also chipped in with nine rebounds.
Holding a 10-point lead at the half, the Nittany Lions outscored the Lancers, 56-40, in the second half. They were paced by Taylor and Newbill. Taylor poured in 16 and Newbill 15 to account for more than half of Penn State’s second half points.
“I’m definitely getting in the gym more after practice, getting shots up,” Taylor said. “When Tim and D.J. penetrate and get into the gaps, my job is to spot up and get open.”
On this day, he made more than he missed.
“His confidence is sky high,” Chambers said. “It’s great to see. I think it also validates that if you work hard, this is what can happen.”
Newbill said the diversity of players leading the team in scoring and the high assist total are a reflection of the Nittany Lions’ attitude and goals on offense.
“Our offense is clicking. We’re hitting shots. Our offensive spacing is beautiful right now. We’re making simple plays. No one’s trying to be a hero. Guys are getting extra shots up. Right now we’re in a good groove on offense,” he said.
“It can’t just be one or two guys. All five guys have got to come to play every day, and that’s the beauty of our team. The depth of our team has really picked up this year and I think that’s helping us.”
Longwood (2-3) was paced by three players in double figures. Isaac Belton scored 17. He was joined by Jeylani Dublin with 16 and Tristan Carey with 13. Carey, the Lancers’ leading scorer at more than 20 points a game, was held below his season average.
Penn State shook off a sloppy first half by tightening its defense to start the second half. The Nittany Lions ran off an 8-0 run to start the half.
With Travis dominating the boards, Penn State often held Longwood to one shot and then got out on the break. Taylor and Newbill were on the receiving end. Taylor made 9 of 16 field goals, including 5 of 9 from beyond the 3-point line. Newbill converted 7 of 10 shots from the field and 8 of 11 at the line.
Penn State ran its lead out to 30 points at 85-55 with 3:08 to go and then Chambers was able to empty his bench.
As a team, the Nittany Lions continued their torrid shooting ways early in the season. Penn State entered the game converting nearly 47 percent of its shots. On Sunday, the Nittany Lions filled it up to the tune of 57.1 percent on 32 of 56 shooting.
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