Andrew Funk drilled a career-best eight 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 27 points and Jalen Pickett added 19 points to boost Penn State to a 76-59 victory against Texas AM on Thursday in an NCAA Tournament first-round game in Des Moines, Iowa.
No. 10 Penn State shot 48.2 percent while making 13 of 22 attempts from 3-point range. The seventh-seeded Aggies were as cold as the Nittany Lions were hot, struggling to a 33.9 percent effort from the field, including a 10-for-34 showing from deep.
The Nittany Lions, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011, are set to face second-seeded Texas in a second-round game on Saturday. Thursday marked the program's first tournament victory since 2001.
Penn State (23-13) won for the sixth time in seven games and will prepare to face a Texas team that enters on a six-game winning streak. The Longhorns cruised past Colgate 81-61 in their first-round game.
Poised to regroup from a lopsided loss to Alabama on Sunday in the SEC tournament championship game, the Aggies sputtered Thursday. After taking a 12-11 advantage in the opening minutes, they never led again and trailed by as many as 26 points.
The Aggies (25-10) closed the season with their first pair of successive losses since Dec. 17-20. Dexter Dennis (19 points), Tyrece Radford (14) and Wade Taylor IV (10) scored in double figures for Texas AM. Andersson Garcia grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, helping the Aggies to a 36-32 advantage on the boards.
Seth Lundy scored 10 points for the Nittany Lions. Pickett had seven rebounds to go with eight assists.
Penn State surged ahead by 18 points in the first half en route to a 38-22 lead at halftime. The Nittany Lions shot a scorching 54.2 percent while swishing 6 of 9 attempts from long range.
Funk set the tone, going 4-for-5 from deep while making each of his three free throws to lead all scorers with 15 first-half points. Pickett had nine points and six assists.
--Field Level Media