Sunday, December 3, 2023

Penn State Opens ESPN Events Invitational vs. #12 Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day – Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s basketball team kicks off the three-game ESPN Events Invitational on Thanksgiving Day when the Nittany Lions take on #12 Texas A&M at noon on ESPN from State Farm Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. The Nittany Lions will then play either Butler or #19 Florida Atlantic at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Friday before facing a team from the other side of the bracket in Boise State, Iowa State, VCU or Virginia Tech Sunday.


  • The 4-0 Nittany Lions hit the road for the first time this season when Penn State travels to Kissimmee, Fla. to compete in a loaded field at the ESPN Events Invitational.
  • Penn State is off to a 4-0 start to the Mike Rhoades era. The Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents by an average of 24 points per game, a scoring margin that ranks 18th in the country.
  • Sophomore Kanye Clary leads Penn State with 17.5 points per game. Graduate student Qudus Wahab is averaging a double-double with 11.0 ppg and a Big Ten-best 12.3 rpg. Senior Ace Baldwin Jr. has chipped in 11.0 ppg and 3.8 assists per game while recording a Big Ten-best 3.0 steals per contest.


  • The loaded eight-team ESPN Events Invitational field features six teams that made NCAA Tournament appearances a season ago.
  • The Nittany Lions and the #12 Aggies will open tournament action at noon on ESPN on Thursday, Nov. 23 in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament first round game in which Penn State defeated Texas A&M 76-59 in Des Moines. The Nittany Lions will then play either Butler or 2023 Final Four team #19 Florida Atlantic on Friday, Nov. 24, at either 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. on either ESPN2 or ESPN+. Penn State then faces a team on the other side of the bracket in Boise State, Iowa State, VCU or Virginia Tech on Sunday, Nov. 26.


  • The ESPN Events Invitational features a number of intriguing matchups for the Nittany Lions.
  • Penn State opens tournament action with a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament First Round game against Texas A&M. The 10th-seeded Nittany Lions defeated the seventh-seeded Aggies 76-59 on March 16 in Des Moines, Iowa as Penn State earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 2001. Current NBA G League player Andrew Funk went ballistic from beyond the arc, finishing with 27 points behind an 8-for-10 showing from 3-point range. Current Denver Nugget Jalen Pickett put on a masterclass with 19 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers.
  • Penn State could also potentially meet VCU on Sunday at the ESPN Events Invitational, matching Mike Rhoades and his coaching staff up with their former team. Rhoades came to Happy Valley in March after six seasons as the Rams’ head coach in which he guided VCU to three NCAA Tournament appearances, a 129-60 overall record and a 72-32 Atlantic 10 Conference record.


  • The Aggies are 4-0 on the season after collecting wins over Texas A&M Commerce (78-46), at Ohio State (73-66), at SMU (79-66) and against Oral Roberts (74-66).
  • Preseason All-SEC selection and NABC Player of the Year Top 20 Watch List member Wade Taylor IV leads the Aggies with 17.0 points per game, while fellow preseason All-SEC pick Tyrece Radford (15.5 ppg) follows. Henry Coleman III is averaging a double-double with 13.3 ppg and 11.0 rpg.


  • Butler is 3-1 on the young season and is coming off a 54-74 road loss at Michigan State on Friday, Nov. 17. The Bulldogs’ three wins all came at home as Butler took down Eastern Michigan (94-55), Southeast Missouri State (91-56) and ETSU (81-47).
  • Four Bulldogs are averaging double-digit points in Pierre Brooks II (13.3 ppg), Posh Alexander (12.3 ppg), Jahmyl Telfort (12.3 ppg) and DJ Davis (11.8 ppg).


  • The Owls captured the nation’s attention last season with a Cinderella run to the Final Four and FAU is off to a 2-1 start this year. FAU owns wins against Loyola Chicago (75-62) and Eastern Michigan (100-57) and is coming off a 52-61 loss to Bryant.
  • Four Owls are averaging double-digit points in Vladislav Goldin (15.0 ppg), Nick Boyd (10.7 ppg), Brandon Weatherspoon (10.0 ppg) and Johnell Davis (10.0 ppg).


  • The Nittany Lions are off to a strong start to the Mike Rhoades era as Penn State sits at 4-0 on the young season. The Nittany Lions are off to a 4-0 start for the second-straight year and the third time in the last five years.
  • The Nittany Lions own a +24.0 scoring margin, a mark that ranks 18th in the country.
  • Penn State earned a 34-point victory (79-45) over Delaware State in the Nittany Lions’ season opener on Nov. 6 before taking down Lehigh (74-65) on Nov. 10. PSU then defeated St. Francis (Pa.) by 30 points (83-53) on Nov. 14. The Nittany Lions earned a 23-point win (74-51) over defending Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champion Morehead State Friday night in Penn State’s most recent win.


  • The trademark Mike Rhoades defense has been on full display through Penn State’s first four games of the season.
  • Penn State’s opponents are averaging 21.5 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the country. The Nittany Lions have scored an average of 21.5 points off turnovers per contest.
  • The Nittany Lions have held their opponents to a 34.6 percent clip from the field and 19.7 percent mark from 3-point range, marks that rank eighth and second in the nation, respectively. 
  • Penn State has collected a Big Ten-best 10.8 steals per game. The Nittany Lions have blocked an average of 5.0 shots per game.


  • Penn State and Nittany Lion players rank in the top 25 in the nation in a number of statistical categories through games on Nov. 20:

Team Stat


National Rank

Turnovers forced per game



3FG% defense



Scoring defense

53.5 ppg


FG% defense



Turnover margin



Steals per game



Scoring margin

+24.0 ppg


Player Stat


National Rank

3FG% – Jameel Brown



Rebounds per game – Qudus Wahab



Steals per game – Ace Baldwin Jr.




  • With a roster full of new faces, two returnees have asserted themselves for the Nittany Lions through the first four games of the season in Kanye Clary and Jameel Brown.
  • The two returning sophomores combined for 129 points a season ago while playing limited minutes behind Penn State’s veteran 2022-23 backcourt that included two 2023 NBA Draft picks, a current NBA G League player and five 1,000-point scorers. Clary (17.5 ppg) and Brown (9.3 ppg) have already combined for 107 points through four games this season.
  • Clary is Penn State’s leading scorer and has scored in double figures in all four games this season, including back-to-back 20-point games in the first two games of the year. Brown is shooting 68.8% (11-16) from 3-point range, a mark that ranks first in the country.


  • Graduate student Qudus Wahab currently leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the country in rebounds per game with 12.3 boards per contest. He is one of three Big Ten players averaging a double-double (11.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg) thus far into the season.
  • Wahab, who came to Penn State for his fifth season after three seasons at Georgetown and one at Maryland, owns career marks of 1,074 points and 786 rebounds. His 786 career rebounds rank in the top 20 amongst active career NCAA leaders.


  • Senior point guard Ace Baldwin Jr. earned well-deserved preseason recognition as a preseason top 20 finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award as well as being ranked as the No. 40 player on The Almanac’s list of Top 100 Players entering the 2023-24 season.
  • Baldwin Jr. has stuffed the stat sheet through his first four games as a Nittany Lion, averaging 11.0 points per game, a Big Ten-best 3.0 steals per contest, a team-high 3.8 assists per game and 3.0 rebounds per game. 
  • Baldwin Jr. is in his first season at Penn State after transferring from VCU to rejoin Penn State head coach Mike Rhoades. The Baltimore, Md. native put together three standout seasons at VCU as a two-time all-conference pick and the 2023 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged double-digit points during both his sophomore and junior seasons and led the Rams in assists in all three of his seasons at VCU, while guiding the Rams to a 68-25 record, two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT appearance through his three seasons at VCU.


  • Mike Rhoades was announced as the 15th men’s basketball head coach in Penn State history on March 29, 2023.
  • Rhoades came to Penn State following a six-year stint as the head coach at VCU in which he guided the Rams to three NCAA Tournament appearances, a 129-60 overall record and a 72-32 Atlantic 10 Conference record.
  • In his 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach prior to arrival at Penn State, Rhoades, a Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania native, produced a 373-189 record, a winning percentage of .664, seven NCAA Tournament appearances and nine national postseason appearances.


  • Following Thursday’s game results, Penn State will take on either Butler or #19 Florida Atlantic at either 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. on either ESPN2 or ESPN+.
  • The Nittany Lions play their third and final game of the ESPN Events Invitational Sunday against a team from the other side of the bracket in Boise State, Iowa State, VCU or Virginia Tech at a time to be determined.

The 2023-24 Penn State men’s basketball season is presented by Highmark Health.

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