Final: Penn State 59, Illinois 64
Penn State falls to 8-18 (0-14) and Illinois notches their 20th win, making them 20-8 (8-8)
Penn State looked confident early at Assembly Hall against a surging Illinois team that came in with 4 straight wins, including wins at home against the Hoosiers and at Minnesota. The Nittany Lions began the game on a 9-2 run, but Illinois responded with a long run of their own to take the lead, and they didn’t surrender the lead again. Foul trouble was a major problem for Penn State again, as they piled up 31 fouls, the most they’ve had all season, and two players (Ross Travis, Kevin Montminy) fouled out. It was another impressive performance from Penn State overall. This team isn’t winning yet, but the Nittany Lions sure as hell are getting better.
Penn State was led by Jermaine Marshall, who had 20 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 4-4 from the free throw line, while Illinois’ leading scorer was D.J. Richardson with 18. Two HUGE factors in this game were free throw shooting and turnovers. Penn State actually made more threes and shot a higher field goal percentage than Illinois, but the Fighting Illini won the turnover battle (15-10) and made 14 more free throws than the Nittany Lions.
One thing that is becoming a common factor when Penn State plays well is getting Sasa Borovnjak involved early in the game, the Serbian big man scored Penn State’s first 6 points of the game. He would finish with 17 points. The Nittany Lions also owned Illinois on the boards, out-rebounding Illinois 29 to 18. Penn State also took 5 more shots overall than the Illini, but couldn’t overcome the overwhelming amount of free throws attempted by Illinois.
Penn State is STILL winless on the road in the Big Ten under Pat Chambers, and the Nittany Lions overall losing streak on the season has reached 14. Penn State did cover the spread, again, as they came in to the game as 14.5 point underdogs. However, as Coach Chambers says, no moral victories.
Penn State’s next game is at the Bryce Jordan Center against the (7) Michigan Wolverines on Wednesday, February 27 at 6:30 PM.
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