As it had many times this year, the Penn State men’s basketball team faced a very beatable team at home.
And once again, the Nittany Lions (12-12, 3-8) weren’t able to come out of the Bryce Jordan Center with a win. Illinois (14-10, 3-8) was the latest team to leave Penn State’s home court victorious, as the Illini won 60-55 in front of 7,573 fans, including some from their own student section.
Led by seven quick points from DJ Newbill, the home team got out to a quick 16-7 lead just six minutes in, causing Illinois to take a timeout. John Groce’s adjustments worked well for his team, however, as the Illini responded with a 24-6 run to take a nine point lead of their own at 31-22. An and-one and a three pointer by Tim Frazier, coupled with a deep Newbill three pointer, gave Penn State a 9-0 run right before half, and the two teams went into the intermission knotted up at 31 each.
Both teams battled even throughout the first ten minutes of the second half, with neither team able to gather more than a three point lead. With 9:44 remaining, Newbill hit a jumper to put Penn State up by three, but that would be the last time Penn State made a shot from the field until there were 16 seconds left. During that 9:28 stretch, the Illini were able to go on an 8-1 run to gain a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Newbill broke the cold streak with an easy layup with 16 seconds left, but the Illini’s lead was too much to overcome, and Penn State dropped its eighth conference game 60-55.
That scoreless stretch, in which the Nittany Lions shot 0-for-8 from the field, committed two costly turnovers, and went just 1-for-3 from the free throw line, was the deciding stretch for Pat Chambers’ team.
“That’s a long time not to score. I think we took a couple ill-advised threes, but let’s give them credit,” Chambers said. “I think their defense was terrific on Tim [Frazier] and DJ [Newbill] at the end. That was a desperate team we played. They made the winning plays and big shots when they needed to make them.”
Penn State takes on Indiana at Assembly Hall in Bloomington on Wednesday, February 12. The game, which will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, tips off at 7 p.m.
- Team leaders: DJ Newbill had 19 points, and Tim Frazier scored 11. Ross Travis grabbed 8 rebounds, and Newbill and Donovon Jack had 6. Newbill recorded 3 assists.
- Quick stats: Rebounds – Penn State 34, Illinois 33. Turnovers – Penn State 6, Illinois 6. Field goal percentage – Penn State 21/55 (38.2%), Illinois 19/49 (38.8%).
- Tim Frazier had two assists during the game, giving him 602 for his career. That moves him past Freddie Barnes into first place in the Penn State program’s history on the career assists list.