Clowntime is Over: Sixers Face First Winning Team Since Break

Clowntime is Over: Sixers Face First Winning Team Since Break

As fun as it's been getting to rack up W's against the league's lesser lights--four straight against teams with losing records, though the most recent one about the Cavs was way too close for comfort--it couldn't last forever. The Sixers were bound to face another legitimate test sooner or later, and indeed, tonight they face the Dallas Mavericks in a meeting of the two teams with the longest active winning streaks in their respective conferences. The Mavs are 43-16 for the season, and a jaw-dropping 16-1 in their last 17 games. Something tells me they're not going to be too impressed with the Sixers' recent hot stretch.

Still, the Sixers' four-game winning streak, and their resultant plus-.500 record at 30-29, is something worth celebrating. Not since the team was 2-1 under Eddie Jordan have they been able to refer to themselves as a "winning team," and even if the margin is still fairly slim, that has to count as some sort of progress. And as always, they've been doing so as a team, with 'Dre, Elton, Thad and Jrue all taking their turns as players of the game, and Jodie, Lou, Evan and even Spencer and Marreese all playing key roles in securing victories as well. This is our team, and they're pretty good.

Do they have the potential to be great? Well, games like tonight's are the only way to really find out for sure, but at the very least, the Liberty Ballers aren't contenting themselves with having broken even. "It's time to go on with the rest of the games and try to stay above (.500)," said Thaddeus Young recently. "We're all here to get to the playoffs. We all want to be part of something great." Elton Brand, a locker-room leader all year, concurred. "A .500 record is OK, but we aspire to be better," quoth Elton. "We aspire to catch teams in front of us and keep teams behind us at bay." Well, the Mavs ain't either of those, but guarnateed that a win tonight against 'em will catch the attention of all who are.

7:00 tip from the WFC, where the Sixers are now a sparkling 19-9 on the season. Speaking of Elton, there was a scary moment in the game against the Cavs where it looked like we might lose our leading scorer and rebounder to a dislocated pinky finger, but Brand played out the game and looks to be OK for the immediate future. It's a valuable reminder though of how lucky the Sixers have been most of the season in terms of health, and of how important the veteran forward has been to the team's success this year.

Penn State falls to Pitt as comeback bid comes up short

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USA Today Images

Penn State falls to Pitt as comeback bid comes up short

NEWARK, N.J. -- Michael Young had 29 points and nine rebounds as Pittsburgh held on to defeat Penn State 81-73 on Saturday in the Never Forget Tribute Classic.

Jamel Artis had 16 points and eight rebounds, Cameron Johnson scored 10 and Sheldon Jeter added eight points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for Pitt.

A 3-pointer by Ryan Luther gave the Panthers (8-2) a 50-26 lead with 16:50 to play but Penn State used an 11-2 run to trim its deficit to 15 about four minutes later. Shep Garner scored four points during a 6-0 spurt that pulled the Nittany Lions within five with 1:50 left but Jeter answered with a 3-pointer and they would get no closer.

Mike Watkins had 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Tony Carr and Payton Banks scored 13 points apiece for Penn State (6-5). Garner added 12.

Big Picture
Penn State: After George Mason snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions have lost two in a row for the second time this season. Penn State had lost to No. 1 Duke and No. 24 Cincinnati

Pitt: Young has led the Panthers in scoring in the past nine games, and came in to the contest ranked 17th in the country in scoring, averaging 22.3 points per game.

Up Next
Penn State: After a week off, the Nittany Lions will remain on the road when they travel to Madison Square Garden to face St. John's next Sunday before closing out their non-conference schedule at home against Morgan State.

Pitt: The Panthers return to the court next Saturday to face Rice at 7 p.m. to begin a five-game home stand.

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

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Penn Athletics

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

PHILADELPHIA -- Jalen Jenkins scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to help lead George Mason over Penn 79-60 on Saturday.

Jenkins was 9 of 11 from the field and hit all four of his free throws for the Patriots (8-3), who have won seven straight. Marquise Moore added 17 points and led the team with 16 rebounds -- his eighth double-double this season -- along with 10 assists. Otis Livingston II had 13 points.

Jenkins sank two jumpers and a layup and Jaire Grayer hit a 3-pointer as part of a 13-0 run late in the second period that gave the Patriots a 70-55 lead with 3:18 remaining.

George Mason trailed 44-40 early in the second. Livingston and Karmari Newman sank 3-pointers and Moore drained a layup midway that put the Patriots back on top, 55-48, with 10:39 to play.

Matt Howard scored 15 points with seven rebounds for the Quakers (3-5).