Penn State men’s basketball weekly round-up: Losing stream in Year 1 with injuries mounting

The Penn State Nittany Lions are limping into a busy week after injuries to Kanye Clary and Nick Kern Jr. in a loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

Penn State Nittany Lions guard Nick Kern Jr (3)
Penn State Nittany Lions guard Nick Kern Jr (3) / Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
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Back on January 16, Penn State knocked off No. 11 Wisconsin, and in hindsight, that was the peak of the first year of the Mike Rhoades era. As is the case with peaks, it’s downhill from there, and Penn State slid right down into a valley. 

Since that game, Wisconsin has gone 3-0 with wins over Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan State, while Penn State has lost 79-67 to Ohio State on January 20th and 83-74 to Minnesota a week later. 

The Nittany Lions went into the half up 45-31 at home, but in the second half, Penn State lost two starters and the lead. Nick Kern Jr. and leading scorer Kanye Clary both left the game with injuries, aiding in Minnesota’s comeback. 

Ace Baldwin Jr. led the way with 16 points, but Clary’s absence led to a stagnant offense. Still, it may not have been as big as the loss of Kern on the defensive end. 

After the game, Rhoades told reporters, “Nick is playing really well for us, and not having him out there to defend Garcia, that hurt us because he’s one of our better defenders.”

Garcia is Dawson Garcia, Minnesota’s 6-foot-11 leading scorer who finished with a game-high 22 points. 

The loss leaves the Nittany Lions 12th in the Big Ten at 3-6 with a 9-11 overall record. Penn State is only ahead of 2-6 Rutgers and 2-7 Michigan. If Clary and Kern can’t return soon then Penn State could easily sink to the bottom of the conference. 

Kanye Clary and Nick Kern Jr. injury status

The status of both players is unknown at the moment. Kern was carried off the court in a scary scene. He was unable to put any weight on his legs. 

The good news is that Kern returned to the court to sing the alma mater to the home crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Clary did not return to the floor after exiting earlier in the game. It’s not clear whether either will play in Penn State’s two games this week. 

Upcoming

Penn State has a busy week with an 8:30 p.m. tipoff at the BJC against 10-9 (2-6) Rutgers followed by a Saturday trip to Bloomington to face the 12-8 (4-5) Indiana Hoosiers at Noon ET.

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