Penn State looked a bit sleepy to begin its 11:30 a.m. tip against Purdue on Sunday. But it didn’t take them too long to wake up.
After eight minutes of idle, turnover-ridden basketball, the Lions used a mid-first half 17-2 run to seize control and never trailed again, en route to a 79-68 victory. It’s the first time the men’s basketball team has won three consecutive Big Ten games since 2008-09, and the first under Patrick Chambers.
“We’re definitely on a high right now,” said junior guard D.J. Newbill. “We’re playing some great basketball. We’re helping each other out.”
Donovon Jack, who didn’t score last week at Ohio State, took the first three shots of the game for the Nittany Lions — all three point attempts — and made one. Early turnovers by Newbill and Brandon Taylor found the Lions quickly down 14-7, six minutes into the game.
But that’s when Penn State began a six minute, 17-2 run sparked by a Tim Frazier layup with 14:03 to play in the half. Four minutes later, 7-0 center Jordan Dickerson corralled an offensive rebound, dished it to Frazier under the hoop, who then passed it back to Dickerson for a two-handed dunk. The play gave Penn State its first lead since the opening minutes, 16-14.
On the ensuing possession, Graham Woodward hit a three pointer for the Lions. Three minutes later, Penn State was ahead by ten, 28-18, with 7:16 in the half.
Purdue battled back to some degree, thanks in large part to 9 first half points from 7-0 center A.J. Hammons. Penn State took a 34-29 lead into the halftime break. Ronnie Johnson and Sterling Carter both added six points for the Boilermakers in the half.
Overall, however, the Lions stifled the big center.
“[Penn State] didn’t have anybody to guard him,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. “We didn’t make them pay.”
Newbill, who had 25 points against Ohio State last week, led the Lions with 11 points in the first twenty minutes.
Penn State came out of the locker room with as much energy as they entered with. For the first seven minutes, the teams primarily traded baskets. But with 13:05 remaining in the game, the Lions already found themselves in the bonus.
Then, on the next possession, Brandon Taylor flew into the second row for a loose ball and hit a three pointer moments later. Tim Frazier blew past the entire Purdue defense for a nifty layup the next time up the court. Suddenly, Penn State was ahead 51-41 with 11:31 to play.
Purdue responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a Errick Peck three pointer, in only 1:53 of game time to claw right back, 51-49 with 9:53 to play.
But the Lions, who have crumbled under pressure multiple times this season, didn’t let Purdue within a basket again. Penn State made 22 free throws in the second half to Purdue’s 6.
“We’ve been through a lot,” said Frazier. “A lot of losses at the end of games. This was good for us.”
Newbill led the Lions with 19 points. Frazier added 18, and Taylor contributed 15 points and 8 rebounds. Hammons paced Purdue with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“We were 0-6 a couple weeks ago,” said Chambers. “What these kids have done to turn this around is just kept working, kept digging. And it looks like they are really playing for each other. We have a good bunch, we have good heads and we have uncharted waters right now because we haven’t won three games in a long time.”
Penn State travels to Michigan State on Thursday to battle the Spartans at 9:00 p.m.