STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Guard John Johnson made his presence felt in his first game for Penn State as the Nittany Lions rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to turn away pesky Mount St. Mary's 92-82 Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Johnson, who transferred from Pittsburgh in December 2012, was eligible to play for the first time against the Mountaineers. He scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half.Four other Nittany Lions (9-4) scored in double figures: D.J. Newbill scored 18, Tim Frazier 15, Ross Travis 14 and Brandon Taylor 10.For Mount St. Mary's (3-8), Julian Norfleet led the way with 22 points. Sam Prescott added 18 points, Rashad Whack 16 and Byron Ashe 14.Penn State opened the second half with a 6-0 run to cut the Mountaineer lead to 46-43, but Mount St. Mary's wasn't ready to cede the lead without a fight.Johnson hit a bucket with 12:14 left to tie the game at 65-65 and for the next 6 minutes, it was a back-and-forth affair.Penn State took the lead with 5:55 left on two free throws by Newbill. Frazier pushed the lead to 4 on a driving layup.Mount St. Mary's, however, had one push left. Taylor Danaher threw down a dunk on an inbounds play. On the next possession, Norfleet converted a driving layup to tie the game at 80-80.Penn State, though, took the lead for the good as Frazier hit a bucket, Travis made a bucket and then grabbed a rebound and made a stick-back and Geno Thorpe took a pass off a steal and made a layup.That pushed the Nittany Lion lead to 88-80 and the teams traded foul shots for the final minute of the game.Penn State, which finished non-conference play with a 9-4 mark, starts Big Ten play at 5 p.m. New Year's Eve when it entertains Michigan State.