Its a tremendous honor you know; hes been very, very good for us, Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said of Claxton joining the 1,000-point club. Im very, very happy for him. Hes worked extremely hard. I like the way he got it. It was a nice alley-oop dunk from Mike (Walker), so it kind of put an explanation point on it.
Penn State's 129 points easily surpassed the old record of 110 set by a Jesse Arnelle led team in a 1954 victory over Colgate and marked the 19th 100-point game in PSU history. It also easily topped the previous BJC record of 105 set in a 105-103 victory over Siena in the 2000 NIT. The 240 combined points for both teams also set a school record, smashing the previous mark of 209 posted in a 121-88 loss to Duke in 1965. Dukes output had been the previous high for any team in a game in which Penn State competed prior to Saturday.
Point totals werent the only records to fall Saturday as Penn State set a school mark for assists (36) and Jordan Center marks for rebounds (53) and field goals (45) and the Lions 52 free throw attempts were just one shy of the school record of 53 set in 1991 Meanwhile, VMI, which entered the game averaging NCAA-bests of 101 points and 14.5 three-pointers per game, set Penn State opponent records making 19 threes and attempting 54 while posting the third highest point total by a Penn State opponent and the most ever in a losing effort.
Three Nittany Lions scored 20 or more points all three posting career-highs and seven Penn State players scored in double figures. Claxton led the way with a career-high 31 points, the 69th 30-point game in Penn State history and the first since Marlon Smith posted 35 vs. Long Island in 2005. Claxton also added 11 rebounds for his 13th career double-double.
With 1:55 left to play, Claxton rammed home a nice alley-oop pass from Mike Walker, Penn States 12th dunk of the game, for his final points. The jam pushed his career scoring total to 1,001, making him the 27th player in Penn State history to reach 1,000 career points. With 491 career rebounds, Claxton stands on the cusp of becoming just the 15th PSU player to post 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for their career.
Jamelle Cornley also had a career high with 25 points and added eight boards while shooting 75 percent (12-16) from the floor in 32 very strong minutes of action. Brandon Hassell also reached a career high with 20 points, including seven dunks, as he shot 9-of-11. Penn State recorded 48 fast break points and 76 points in the paint, most of which came on dunks, lay-ups and drives to the paint as the Lions mastered VMIs 1-2-1-1 full-court press.
VMI entered the game averaging an NCAA-best 16 steals per game and causing an average of 30 turnovers per game. Penn State attacked their trapping defense as the Keydets got 11 steals and Penn State turned the ball over just 19 times in the fast paced, up and down game in which the teams combined for 159 shot attempts.
Really, the kids did what we asked them to do, DeChellis said. Attack the basket, get to the free-throw line, keep them off the glass, and take care of the ball. For the most part we took care of the ball. We had some silly turnovers that led to some baskets at one point in time, but for the most part, playing that kind of tempo for 40 minutes and having 19 (turnovers) that was pretty good. I thought we did a good job of taking care of the basketball.
Penn State shot a season-high 59 percent (45-76) from the floor including a sizzling 70 percent (26-37) in the second half and dominated the boards 53-34. The Lions shot 34-of-52 (65 percent) from the free throw line as the Keydets committed 37 personal fouls and Penn State spent most of the game in the double-bonus.
Mooch Jackson (13), Milos Bogetic (11), Danny Morrissey (10) and Mike Walker (10) also reached double figures. Walker went 3-of-6 from the three-point line on the night, including two run boosters in the first half, to move into ninth place all-time on Penn States career chart for three-pointers made with 101.
VMI had six players in double figures led by Reggie Williams with 28 and Chavis Holmes with 27. Williams, who entered the game fourth in the NCAA in scoring averaging 26 points per game, shot 9-of-20 from the field and 3-of-10 from three-point range. The Keydets began the game cold hitting 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-6 from three against a swarming Penn State man-to-man defense. The Lions jumped out to a 17-3 lead five minutes into the game. VMI eventually warmed up and went 10-of-22 from the arc the rest of the half as they cut the lead to one on two occasions.
Penn State clung to a 33-32 lead with 8:31 to play in the half after a pair of free throws by Chavis Holmes, but went on a 20-6 run over the next four minutes to build a 15-point lead. Walker swatted a VMI three-point attempt out of bounds and then drained back-to-back threes to ignite the back half of the run that was capped by a Claxton dunk for a 53-38 PSU lead. VMI twice got the margin under 10 before PSU scored the last five points of the half and went to the locker room with a 62-48 lead. The 62-points marked the second most ever scored in a half in the Jordan Center behind 64 posted against Bucknell in 1998.
Penn State would set the mark in second stanza as the Lions scored 67 points in the final 20 minutes to stay ahead of VMIs 63. Penn State maintained a double-digit lead for nearly 12 minutes of the half until a Williams three cut the Lion lead to eight at 92-84 with 8:18 to play. A Cornley dunk answered and then Holmes got a lay-up on the other end for VMI. A Hassell dunk answered this time and VMI again responded with a lay-up, this one from Fred Robinson who was fouled and made the free throw to cut the lead to seven at 96-89.
Penn State went on an 18-4 run over the next three minutes getting a Hassell dunk, four lay-ups and a three from Morrissey along the way. A Cornley jumper capped the run that gave PSU a 21-point lead, 114-93, with 3:48 to play. Penn State kept the margin over 17 the rest of the way. A Maxwell Dubois jumper with 34 seconds to play capped PSUs scoring in the game.
Penn State will open its 15th season of Big Ten play on Wednesday against Northwestern in the Jordan Center. That game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tip and will be televised by ESPNU.