It took seven tries, but the Penn State Nittany Lions finally picked up a win in the Big Ten conference. After loosing six straight conference games, the Nittany Lions sent the Bryce Jordan Center crowd home happy with a 58-54 victory. While the game was a low-scoring affair that featured little offense, Penn State battled the entire game and came out on top.
Second-half collapses have plagued this Penn State team, losing second-half leads in four of six conference losses. However, against Nebraska, the Nittany Lions found themselves down for much of the game before pulling ahead at the end.
The Nittany Lions went into halftime trailing by seven points. Star guard Tim Frazier started very slowly in the half, only putting up three points. Fellow guard D.J. Newbill, who’s had problems with slow starts, continued to struggle early in this one, scoring just four points before the break. Penn State was kept in the game by reserve guard John Johnson, who provided a spark off the bench with 10 points.
Nebraska made the first bucket of the game, before falling behind at the start. However, the Cornhuskers took the lead six minutes into the first half and remained in control until the end of the game. Terran Petteway, Nebraska’s leading scorer for the season, recorded eight points and three rebounds before halftime. Petteway ended up leading the Cornhuskers with 15 points for the game.
The Cornhuskers came out of the break and played solid basketball, continuing to lead. However, Penn State hung in there and kept the game close, never trailing by more than eight points.
It was a sequence with just over five minutes left that showed how bad the Nittany Lions wanted a victory. Trailing by two, Donovon Jack grabbed a defensive rebound and Penn State started up court. Brandon Taylor fired up a three-pointer and missed, but Newbill grabbed the tough offensive rebound. The ball went back outside and John Johnson put up a shot from behind the arc. That too missed, but Taylor was there for the offensive rebound and the put-back.
That set of plays seemed to energize the team, as the Nittany Lions quickly went up by two on a Newbill layup after a Nebraska miss. Though Penn State would eventually go back down by four, the Nittany Lions grabbed the lead with just over a minute left and never looked back.
Newbill led all scorers in the game with 16 points. Johnson put up 13 points, while Frazier and Taylor both added 11. Frazier led the Nittany Lions with 9 rebounds.
The Nittany Lions take the court next on January 29th when they travel to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes.
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