Utes lose to Penn State in NIT championship game, 82-66

Penn State guard Tony Carr drives against Mississippi State guard Nick Weatherspoon during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the NIT Tuesday

Penn State guard Tony Carr drives against Mississippi State guard Nick Weatherspoon during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the NIT Tuesday

There were five straight wins, a trophy, the cutting down of nets, pictures and more pictures, and joy and tears mixed on the court in Madison Square Garden.

Almost a month after Penn State was bounced out of the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions are back at Madison Square Garden with another chance to win a championship. Penn State tops Utah for NIT championshipAP Photo MSG109, MSG118, NY109, MSG126, MSG123, MSG122Eds: Penn State 82, Utah 66.

Stevens was named the NIT's Most Outstanding Player, an accolade that comes at the end of his sophomore season.

On Thursday night the Penn State Nittany Lions ended their season with a championship for the first time in coach Pat Chambers' tenure with the team, finishing their season with a record of 26-13. The Nittany Lions were the 2018 NIT champions - with a bright future for next season.

Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center has a long-standing reputation as one of the dreariest arenas in college basketball. "We preach defense and rebounding, but now we have something we can always go to".

"It was a real dang good year, and nobody's going to take the fact away that we got on a nice roll", Krystkowiak said. "It's not just a stepping stone, it's a destination". This tied him for the all-time Penn State record of three pointers made at 332. Stevens had a monster game and finished with a team-high 28 points. Nittany Lion fans will have to await the decision of Tony Carr to find out whether or not their point guard will be in the National Basketball Association or State College next season.

An underrated star for the Nittany Lions in the victory was forward John Harrar. The Utes shot 47.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Hilltoppers 38-32. He tied a career-high with six three's in the game and notched his first 20-point scoring effort since January 27th. That being said I believe Tony Carr will come back for his junior year and Penn State will return their four best starters. Teammate Carr had his 1,000th career point during the Nebraska game on February 25. After struggling to convert shots early in the game the Nittany Lions found themselves down by six. The last time was in 2001 with Gyasi Cline-Heard, Joe Crispin and Titus Ivory.

Sedrick Barefield led Utah with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting overall and a 6-of-8 effort from the 3-point arc.

The NIT championship is a March Madness treat before the big dance of the Final Four and has the potential for an exciting finish due to the evenly matched teams. I give Penn State the slight edge because of their familiarity with Madison Square Garden and their offensive play over Mississippi State.

Of course, Penn State's three-pointers can't be talked about without mentioning Shep Garner. Madison Square Garden has recently been a home away from home for the Nittany Lions after winning two big games in the Big Ten Conference championship inside the Garden. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Utah forward David Collette (13) drives against Penn State forward Julian Moore (44) during the first quarter of an NCAA college basketball game for the NIT championship Thursday, March 29, 2018, in NY.

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