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Penn State Survives Nebraska’s Late Charge To Win 68-65, Advance In Big Ten Tourney

Well, wasn’t that an adrenaline rush? Despite leading by as much as 16 in the second half, Penn State outlasted a late charge by the Cornhuskers to advance to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, winning 68-65. Behind another stellar outing by D.J. Newbill — who finished with 26 points, three steals, two assists, and four blocks — along with a season high 16-block performance by the team, Penn State will see another day in Chicago. Those 16 blocks were good for a Big Ten tournament record. Let’s see how it all unfolded.

How It Happened 

This had the makings of a shootout early on, as both teams traded buckets back and forth. Terran Petteway, who finished with 29 points, scored his team’s first eight, willing the Cornhuskers to an early 8-6 lead. The lead would not last long, however, as a deep three by Newbill gave Penn State a 16-13 advantage right before a TV timeout.

The strong shooting continued for Penn State, as back-to-back threes by Newbill and Shep Garner — who wound up with 19 points — gave the Nittany Lions a 24-19 lead with 7:09 to go in the first half. Penn State was also strong defensively, as the team blocked shots left and right, giving Nebraska fits as the Huskers attempted to drive the lane. Things got a bit sloppy towards the end of the half, with both teams failing to get shots to fall. The Nittany Lions hung on to take a 34-29 lead into the locker room.

Garner got things going with a three at the top of the key to start the second half, and after a flurry of buckets, nailed one from deep downtown — I’m talking Jimmer Fredette range — to give Penn State its biggest lead of the game, up 51-35. But let’s be honest, we know this Penn State team all too well. The lead would slowly evaporate as Petteway and Shavon Shields led a charge that helped Nebraska get to within two of Penn State, making things much more interesting than they should’ve been.

The duo of Newbill and Garner — the only Nittany Lions to finish in double figures — again swooped in to give the team another lead, this time extending it to eight. But pesky Nebraska would not go down without a fight as both squads traded free throws with under three minutes to play in regulation. Whistles blew left and right and officials were quick with their calls all throughout this one. Petteway got Nebraska to within one after sinking three free throws, but they simply would not be enough. Penn State was able to ice this one, hanging on to win 68-65.

Player Of The Game 

Your game MVP will be split into two, because although Newbill’s stellar outing stole the show, Penn State’s season-high and Big Ten tournament record-setting 16-block performance simply cannot be ignored. The team was tenacious in protecting the rim, and played aggressive basketball throughout. It was the definition of a team win, so MVP honors will be split between Newbill — who again proved that he deserved an All-Big Ten selection — and the team’s defensive performance.

Tweet Of The Game 

The tweet of the game goes to our very own Noel Purcell for his impressive rendition of the famous Penn State basketball twitter account’s accidental tweeting of “h.” These games can be stressful, but Mr. Purcell gets some props for his creativity.

Game Notes 

With the loss, Nebraska’s season will likely come to an end barring a miracle tournament bid. Penn State’s tournament quest continues, however, as the team looks to catch fire at the perfect time. Though it may seem unlikely, the Nittany Lions live to see another game and they’ll be striving to embark on an improbable run at the title. Remember, crazier things have happened in March.

What’s Next? 

Next up will be No. 5 Iowa, led by senior Aaron White — who averages 15.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest. The Hawkeyes excel on the glass and will serve as a tough test for the Nittany Lions. Keep in mind that Iowa needed overtime to beat Penn State the last time they met and at a neutral site, it could be anyone’s game. Penn State and Iowa tip off at 2:25 p.m. tomorrow at the United Center.

One down, four to go. Penn State must survive and advance.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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