Frazier Hits Game Winner as Penn State Upsets Illinois
A new era of Penn State basketball is coming, and it’s coming fast.
Before an electric student crowd, Penn State (10-10, 2-5) upset the 25th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini (15-4, 4-2) in a thriller, by a score of 54-52.
Penn State went in at the half up by two, 25-23, after closing the first half on a 16-6 run. The Lions’ would maintain that small lead for the entire second half, until a clutch trey by Illinois guard Brandon Paul put the score tied at 52-52 with 40 seconds left, following Jon Graham missing the front end of a one-and-one. After some confusion coming out of a timeout, the Nittany Lions put the ball in the hands of Tim Frazier. Who else could take the last shot? He responded by connecting on a mid-range floater with 8 seconds remaining.
Illinois got down the court quickly, but Jermaine Marshall swatted away a layup attempt by Sam Maniscalco as time expired. Pat Chambers touched his heart and pointed at the student section as he walked off the court, mouthing the words “Thank you”. It was Coach Chambers first win against a ranked opponent as the head coach of the Nittany Lions, and certainly one that will carry a lot of meaning going forward.
Senior Cammeron Woodyard led Penn State with 17 points, but there were many big contributors for the Nittany Lions. Tim Frazier wasn’t far behind with 12 points and 9 assists. Matt Glover had one of the best games of his career thus far with 7 points and 7 rebounds, and was all over the court like usual. Jermaine Marshall only shot 2 for 8, but he had 3 big-time blocks on defense. The only disappointment came from redshirt freshman Jon Graham, who couldn’t seem to get any leverage on the Illinois big man Leonard Meyers down low.
Penn State played spectacular defense as well. They held Illinois 17 points and 12% below their season average, and forced 14 turnovers.
Penn State had no business winning this game. Illinois shooting percentage is a whopping 240 spots better than Penn State in the national rankings, and the Illini were coming off a win against one of the best teams in the country in Ohio State. If I wanted to be clichè, I would tell you it was all because of heart, determination, and attitude. And it probably was. But that could also be said about last year’s Nittany Lions squad. There’s just something different about this edition of Penn State than in year’s past, even during the most recent successful seasons of 2010-11 or 2008-09.
Tim Frazier was right in his comments after the Minnesota game, when he said, “If we play 40 minutes of Penn State basketball, nobody can beat us.” It might not be this year, it might not be next year, hell, it might not even be in five years. But brighter times are ahead — that I can say for certain.
Penn State gets another shot at Indiana (15-4, 3-4) on Sunday in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have lost three straight games since Penn State gave them a scare in an 88-82 loss about a week ago. The game will air at noon on the Big Ten Network.