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Tim Frazier, D.J. Newbill Lead Men’s Basketball to 74-62 Win

Maybe Pat Chambers was onto something with that “best backcourt in the country” thing.

Behind double-doubles from Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, Penn State men’s basketball kicked off its 2013-14 campaign with a wire-to-wire win over Wagner College, 74-62.

In his first game since rupturing his Achilles’ tendon last November, Frazier led the way for Penn State. The 2011-12 first team All-Big Ten selection scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out four assists for the Nittany Lions. Newbill was just as impressive, registering 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Coming into the game, Frazier, who played in a game for the first time in 356 days, admitted that he was understandably nervous.

“I had so many jitters running through my veins,” Frazier said after the game. “Last week was great, but it’s still an exhibition. But this time, to see the fans, step on the court, put the jersey on and really count, ask him, I was like, ‘man, I got too many jitters right now.’ Keep breathing, I’m breathing, I’m breathing, because I’ve been out so long and I’ve missed so much to be able to step back on the court with these guys, it was such an amazing moment and I’ll never forget this day.”

Frazier and the rest of the Nittany Lions came out slow. The team scored five points in the first six and a half minutes of action, and Frazier didn’t score his first basket until the the 13:16 mark of the first half. The senior struggled from the field, going 1-of-5 with six points, but grabbed seven rebounds in the frame.

Luckily for the Nittany Lions, Newbill did the lion’s share of the work in the half. The redshirt junior guard scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in the frame, and showed a refined perimeter game as he knocked down both of his attempts from behind the arc. Along with a very respectable six points and five rebounds from sophomore forward Brandon Taylor, Penn State took a 32-20 lead into the half.

At the beginning of the second half, Wagner came out and punched the Lions in the mouth. The Seahawks, who Chambers said he expects will play in the NCAA Tournament this year, came out hot, going on a 10-1 run to cut Penn State’s lead to three.

“We made a bunch of mental mistakes, especially coming out of the half,” Frazier said. “One of our main goals was to get that first stop and I think they got to the foul line. Their coaching, great coach, drilled some play that we hadn’t seen the whole first half and they were able to get to the basket, almost get an and one.”

“They went on a run from there, but the game of basketball is a game of runs,” Frazier continued. “They made their run, we came back and made our run.”

However, Frazier and co. were unfazed, and responded with a 10-4 run of their own behind  six points from Frazier. The preseason first team Big Ten selection showed glimpses of his 2011-12 form, something that Wagner head coach Bashir Mason praised after the game.

“He played his game, he was solid, he was steady, and every time we made a mistake, he made us pay,” Mason said. “He’s a really good player.”

Wagner hung around all game, but the Seahawks never got within nine points from the 9:46 point of the second half on. Part of this was due to Frazier, who shook off whatever jitters he felt during the first half to score 19 of his 25 points during his second half.

Penn State’s dynamic backcourt duo ended the game with 42 of the team’s 74 points and 21 of the team’s 47 rebounds. While other Nittany Lions struggled — including Ross Travis, who ended the game with eight points and two rebounds due to foul trouble, and Donovon Jack, who had four points and three rebounds on 0-of-5 shooting — Frazier and Newbill showed why Pat Chambers believes they may be the best 1-2 punch in America.

As for any worries about how Tim Frazier will look after not playing for nearly an entire year, well, I’ll let him tell you how he feels:

The Nittany Lions return to the court on Wednesday night, when it takes on in-state rival Bucknell at the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m.

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