Hot-Shooting Funk Leads Penn State To First NCAA Win Since 2001
(CTN News) – He had his most impressive shooting game in more than two decades on Penn State’s big stage.
The Nittany Lions beat Texas A&M 76-59 Thursday night for their first NCAA Tournament win in 22 years thanks to Funk’s 8-of-10 3-point shooting.
“He’s okay at shooting,” Penn State star Jalen Pickett deadpanned before breaking into a wide smile. His jump shot takes a lot of work. He’s got to be found when he gets going like that.”
The 10th-seeded Nittany Lions won their ninth game in Funk’s first season at Penn State after transferring from Bucknell. The second round of the Midwest Region will take place on Saturday, when they will play the No. 2 seed Texas.
It opens up the rim a little bit when you make those first and second shots, Funk said. I’m going to get a lot of shots from 3 in this offense.” It’s easy to get into a rhythm in a game like that.”
In 2001, Penn State upset North Carolina in the second round of the tournament in New Orleans. When they got back to the tournament in 2011, they lost to Temple again.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry said, “We talked about this vision and it’s all coming together.” … We’re planning a run, a ride, and it’s great.”
In its first NCAA Tournament since 2018, Texas A&M (25-10) won 10 of 12. Only twice since 2006 have the seventh-seeded Aggies lost in the first round.
Dexter Dennis led A&M with 19 points on 34% shooting. The Aggies had a rough nonconference start with a 6-5 record. In the Southeastern Conference, they finished second and made the title game.
“Despite this game being yucky, I think we’ll have great memories from the last 75 days,” Buzz Williams said. “What’s happened since then has been great. We’ll look back on it later.”
Last weekend, Funk missed all five of his threes. After making his first 3-pointer against the Aggies, he missed his second and then hit six straight.
Myles Dread said he just knew he was hot, so he kept looking for him.
His streak ended when he put up an air ball on a desperation 3 with the shot clock running out.
It was another strong all-around performance from Pickett with 19 points, eight assists, no turnovers, and seven rebounds.
To close the first half, Penn State outscored the Aggies 28-10. In the first half, the Aggies hadn’t scored that few points since Nov. 24, 2021.
Funk, Dread and Seth Lundy had plenty of space to do what they do best on the perimeter with the threat of 6-foot-10 Kebba Jjie in the post. In the long distance, Penn State was 13 of 22 with threes from Dread and Lundy.
Recently, the Aggies have had trouble in the NCAA Tournament. It was infamous that Williams was upset when they weren’t selected last year. The No. 7 seed was lower than Texas A&M fans thought was fair.
TAKE A LOOK
The Lions’ dominance in their first NCAA Tournament game since 2011 will shine a lot more light on second-year coach Shrewsberry, whose name has been linked to Notre Dame and Georgetown jobs.
The Aggies’ first appearance in the tournament in five years ended with a thud. Their Sweet 16 loss to Michigan was 27 points.
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