Brandon Taylor led Penn State to a home win over No. 4 Iowa on Wednesday, so you’d think he would spend much of the night celebrating in State College.
“I got class tomorrow – and practice,” the Penn State forward told Paul Nanos, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench, “so I think this is going to be an early night for me.”
Really? Even after scoring 18 points and grabbing a team-high nine rebounds?
“No, I’m getting right to class,” Taylor insisted. “I got to worry about my academics as well.”
You have to admire Taylor’s focus and dedication. After all, that’s what led Penn State (13-13, 4-9) to victory Wednesday. The Nittany Lions are now 2-5 in their last seven games, but both wins came at home against ranked opponents.
“It’s a great feeling to do this one for our fans because that’s who we play for,” Taylor said. “They were great tonight. I think that’s one of the reasons why we pulled off the win like this.”
Penn State was blown out at Iowa, 73-49, on Feb. 3. Wednesday, however, was a different story. The Nittany Lions led 38-31 at halftime, made 10 three-pointers, had three players score 18+ points and got a team-high 19 points from reserve forward Donovon Jack, who shot 8-of-9 from the floor.
“Just play with confidence, don’t get down on yourself, just play Penn State basketball: defend and rebound,” Taylor said of head coach Pat Chambers’ pregame message. “That’s the only thing we can control: Our attitude and how we play defense.”
Penn State is known as a football school, but the basketball team has had a nice couple of weeks, beating No. 22 Indiana and No. 4 Iowa.
“I think we’ve earned respect in this area,” Taylor said. “Everybody knows the work that we’ve put in and the effort that we give day in and day out for State College and everybody here. I think we have great respect around here because they know how hard we work.”
Penn State plays at Rutgers this Saturday, against Nebraska on Feb. 25 and at No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 28. Might we see the Nittany Lions knock off another ranked team next weekend?
“We got a great team on Saturday against Rutgers,” Taylor said. “That’s the next big game that we’re focused on. We’re not trying to think too far ahead.”
Rutgers is 6-20 on the season, including 0-13 in Big Ten play. Tip-off is Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.