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Penn State improves to 4-0 with win over CCSU

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Jeff Brooks scored 21 points and Taran Buie added 14 as Penn State pulled away from Central Connecticut State 77-61.

Nittany Lion senior Jeff Brooks (Louisville, Ky.) was hot coming into Monday night, but not like this. The 6-8 forward went a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the line for a career-high 21 points as Penn State remained perfect at 4-0 with a 77-61 victory over Central Connecticut State in the Jordan Center.

Brooks, who came into Monday shooting 65.5 percent on the year and having posted career-best scoring outings in his previous two games, elevated his game even further Monday hitting from three, in the lane, pull-up jumpers and on a flying spin move in transition. Brooks left Monday leading Penn State with a 17.0 ppg average and shooting 72.2 percent from the floor, 62.5 percent (5-8) from three and 84.6 percent (11-13) from the foul line on the year as he joined Talor Battle, David Jackson and Drew Jones as the fourth active Nittany Lion to reach at least 500 career points.

"No. They told me after the game," Brooks said when asked if he knew he hadn't missed. "I was out there just in the moment just playing. As a player, I don't think about things like that. I just wanted to move on to the next play every play and try to make the next shot. I think tonight it just was going down."

"He's always been a very talented kid, always," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said of Brooks. "The thing is the mental state of things. When he would make a mistake he would just kill himself in the sense that he would just be down on himself. He's always been a talented kid and we're hoping he has a great senior year for him and for our team and finally just puts everything together. He really looks confident again. He looks very smooth and just playing under control."

Freshman Taran Buie added a career-best 14 points and four rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting as Penn State rolled easily past the previously unbeaten Blue Devils (3-1) on a night when leading scorer Battle struggled hitting 4-of-15 from the floor for nine points.

Leading 38-26 at the half, the Nittany Lions roared out of the locker room hitting 11 straight field goals and their lone free throw attempt in the first 8 ½ minutes of the second half to seize a 27-point lead, 62-35, with 11:25 to play. Brooks had nine points in the 24-9 run that effectively closed the door on just the 13th 4-0 start for Penn State since 1930. It marked the second time the Lions have achieved the feat under Ed DeChellis. The Lions will look to equal their best-ever 5-0 start under DeChellis on Friday when they take on Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.

Penn State shot a season-best 51.8 percent from the floor, 58 percent in the second half, and 93.3 percent from the line (14-15) and got a career-high equaling seven assists from Tim Frazier. CCSU hit 41.8 percent on the night and was led by 18 points from guard Shemik Thompson and 14 from forward Makeys Deans. Penn State led by as many as 29 points with 6:30 to play before clearing its bench.

The Lions scored the first nine points of the game as Brooks grabbed a pair of steals, two of a career high tying three on the night, and drained a three before CCSU got on the board.

CCSU got hot for a short stretch as it put together a 9-3 run early in the half to get within 12-9 after a Thompson finger roll. Brooks put Penn State up 16-11 after he scored the last of 10-straight points with a three-point play, long range three, two free throws and a 12-foot jumper in the lane.

CCSU got within one, 16-15, after six-straight points from Deans. Billy Oliver made it 18-15 with a tip-in and then added a three from the top of the key to put Penn State up 23-18.

Buie got into the action ripping a three for a 28-21 lead as Penn State went small with Battle, Buie, Frazier, Oliver and Brooks on the floor.

The combination worked as the Lions used a 10-4 run to post a 36-21 lead following six-straight points from Buie who got a free throw, a short jumper and a three. CCSU got a three and a pair of free throws from Ken Horton to cut the lead to 10. Horton entered the game as CCSU's leading scorer posting 21.3 ppg, but left Monday hitting 1-of-9 for five points. Frazier buried a 16-foot jumper to send the Lions to half time up 12.

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