Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 81-66 loss to No. 16 Kentucky

PHILADELPHIA — Clark Slajchert took a quick dribble as Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard flew by, freeing the senior up for a wide open three from the wing he routinely hits.

If it went down, it would have pushed Penn to a 49-47 lead over the Associated Press No. 16 Wildcats with 15 minutes to play, completing a comeback from 16 points down.

The shot looked good but came up a little short. It was a microcosm of the afternoon for the Quakers, who gave Kentucky fits for the better part of 30 minutes in what wound up being an 81-66 loss.

Despite having the ball with a chance to tie or go ahead three times in the second half, Penn (6-5) never could quite get over the hump against the Wildcats. A 9-0 Kentucky run around the under-eight media timeout, capped by an open Antonio Reeves three, pushed the Wildcats’ lead from four points to 13 and put the game out of reach.

What could Penn fans take away from a solid showing against one of the most decorated programs in college basketball?

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Quakeaways heading into Penn men’s basketball’s showdown with No. 16 Kentucky

Senior guard Clark Slajchert enters Penn’s tilt versus Kentucky averaging 19.3 points on 50% shooting through 10 games this season. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

After taking a gut-punch loss to La Salle on Saturday, Penn responded by easily brushing aside Division III Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham on Wednesday at the Palestra, 111-57.

As is expected in a game against a Division III team, Penn could give regulars like Nick Spinoso, Tyler Perkins and Clark Slajchert light workloads. Slajchert scored 17 points on eight shots in just 15 minutes of action; he got virtually the entire second half off.

By the end of the evening, 14 different Quakers had scored. Penn also hit a program-record 21 three-pointers.

There aren’t many meaningful Quakeaways one can take away from a Division III tune-up game. But there’s certainly much to mull over ahead of Penn’s big-time game on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center against Associated Press No. 16 Kentucky.

Maybe these can be Palestra Ponderings on a possible path to victory instead.

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Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 93-92 loss to La Salle

For 45 minutes on Saturday, Penn played gorgeous and free-flowing basketball against La Salle.

Penn’s reward for its efforts? A spot on the wrong end of a SportsCenter Top 10 moment.

The Explorers’ Khalil Brantley banked in a three-pointer from nearly halfcourt as the overtime buzzer sounded, sending Penn to a brutal 93-92 loss in the third-place game of the Big 5 Classic at the Wells Fargo Center.

Clark Slajchert hit what should have been a game-winning layup with four seconds left in overtime, which counted as the final two points of his 33-point scoring effort, tying a career high. Penn (5-4, 1-2 Big 5) defended La Salle’s desperation scramble well, with George Smith getting an outstretched arm right in Brantley’s face.

Fate had other plans for Penn.

Zooming out, Quakers fans learned plenty about their team on Saturday. Such as how…

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Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 76-61 win over Monmouth

Penn men’s basketball responded to a difficult overtime loss with arguably its best top-to-bottom performance of the season.

The Quakers dominated a Monmouth team that had won its last three games, 76-61, to wrap up the Cathedral of College Basketball Classic round robin with a 2-1 record.

Penn (5-3) took control with an extended 19-4 run midway through the first half over roughly eight minutes of game time that flipped the score from 19-13 in favor of the Hawks to a 32-23 Quakers lead.

A deep Sam Brown three from the right wing off a pretty drive and kick by Tyler Perkins gave Penn a 23-21 lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the day.

It’s all good vibes for Penn on Sunday, led by how …

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Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 84-79 overtime loss to Belmont

Senior guard Clark Slajchert registered 21 points on 7-for-21 shooting and seven assists in 43 minutes in Penn’s 84-79 overtime loss to Belmont Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

PHILADELPHIA — Penn has developed a knack for playing games down to the wire in less than ideal circumstances.

Winning those games? That’s been a different story.

The Quakers rallied from 12 points down in the second half to force overtime against Belmont on Saturday but never led in the extra session en route to a tough 84-79 loss in the Cathedral of College Basketball Classic.

Penn (4-3) had the ball down three points with about 17 seconds to go in overtime but couldn’t get a potential tying three-pointer up in the air after a broken play led to a backcourt violation; junior forward Nick Spinoso, who was mostly brilliant on Saturday, was charged with the turnover.

Close games like the ones Penn has played recently — at Maryland Eastern Shore, versus Lafayette, and now versus Belmont — have a ton of variance, and frankly, are often decided by luck. Penn wouldn’t have even gotten to overtime if not for Belmont’s Isaiah Walker bricking a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left to play in regulation in a tied game.

But there are some key signals Penn fans can identify through the noise, such as how …

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Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 74-72 win versus Lafayette

Penn avoided a second consecutive disastrous loss thanks to some heroics from its upperclassmen Friday.

The Quakers opened the Cathedral of College Basketball Classic with a narrow 74-72 win over Lafayette after junior guard George Smith buried a go-ahead three-pointer from the right wing with 33 seconds to go on a broken play.

Smith and the rest of the Quakers (4-2) definitely owe senior guard Clark Slajchert a big thank you. Slajchert set Smith up for the game-winning shot after he recovered a deflection in the backcourt and found the open shooter following a mad scramble for the ball.

Slajchert finished with a team-high 18 points and tied a career high with five assists. The senior played 37 minutes, so load management for Slajchert will be something to monitor as the Red and Blue play three games in as many days this weekend.

It’s (mostly) happy Quakeaways for the day, led by how …

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Three Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 69-61 loss at St. Joseph’s

Penn senior guard Clark Slajchert notched 27 points in 38 minutes, shooting 5-for-8 from three-point range, in his team’s 69-61 loss at St. Joseph’s Friday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Penn’s first trip out of the friendly confines of the Palestra ended in disappointment after the Quakers couldn’t quite complete a valiant second-half comeback against Saint Joseph’s in a 69-61 loss at Hagan Arena.

Despite cutting a 19-point Hawks lead to just two points at three instances late in the second half, Penn (2-1, 0-1 Big 5) never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, thanks to a series of bad breaks and mistakes that were reminiscent of last season’s Ivy Madness loss to Princeton.

The backbreaking sequence came with just under four minutes left to play and the Quakers trailing just 61-59. Saint Joseph’s Kacper Klaczek bricked the front end of a one-and-one, but Penn surrendered an offensive rebound and layup to Rasheer Fleming to extend the Hawks’ lead to four.

On Penn’s next possession, normally-reliable free throw shooter Clark Slajchert missed the front end of a one-and-one. Nick Spinoso corralled the offensive board and looked like he had a clear shot at a layup, but got rejected by Klaczek.

There would be other miscues later on, including a blown fast break opportunity with two minutes to go that could have cut the Hawks’ back lead down to one possession, but that sequence hurt Penn the most.

The loss will give Penn fans plenty to mull over, like how …

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Three Quakeaways from Penn men besting Bucknell, 80-61

Penn is off to its first 2-0 start since the 2018-19 season after a wire-to-wire win over Bucknell at the Palestra by a score of 80-61.

The Quakers had a few nervous moments in the second half after a stagnant stretch on offense allowed the Bison (0-2) to cut what had been a 20-point halftime lead to just nine as the clock neared the under-eight media timeout.

Instead of relying on one player to stop Bucknell’s run, Penn persevered by committee. Junior guard George Smith restored Penn’s double-digit lead by making a nice interior find to sophomore forward Johnnie Walter (more on him later) for an easy layup late in the shot clock.

Sophomore guard Cam Thrower added seven critical points down the stretch as well, including a difficult stepback two-point jumper and a deep three-pointer with 4:45 that pushed Penn’s lead to 21 and effectively iced the game.

Bucknell may not have been the most difficult opponent — the Bison entered Wednesday ranked 349th in KenPom — but the win left Penn fans with plenty of happy Quakeaways:

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Three Quakeaways from the Penn men’s 102-57 rout of John Jay

Tyler Perkins delivered a strong 15-point performance in his collegiate debut. (Penn Athletics)

Chalk up Penn’s first game in the post-Jordan Dingle era as a success.

The Quakers raced out to a 30-9 lead in the first six-plus minutes against Division III John Jay on Monday at the Palestra and didn’t look back en route to a 102-57 win.

With the second-leading scorer in Division I gone to St. John’s, Penn (1-0) relied on offensive production by committee; five players scored in double figures.

Monday’s contest was, in all practicality, a preseason game. But the Quakers put enough on tape to have some meaningful Quakeaways ahead of Wednesday’s home game against Bucknell.

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2023-24 Ivy men’s media day recap and season preview

With the season a few weeks away, the Ivy League hosted its Men’s Basketball Media Day on Thursday. the second of two hoops-themed media availabilities. The event was hosted over Zoom for media members and is available on the conference’s YouTube channel.

The preseason media poll was released on Tuesday with Yale, last year’s regular season co-champions, securing the top spot. Princeton, which used its Ivy League Tournament title victory as a springboard to a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament run, was picked second.

The Bulldogs received 14 of 16 first-place votes, while the Tigers earned the other two top votes.

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