At a Glance: Penn State

A closer look at Illinois' next opponent -- the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Illinois (19-8, 6-7) vs. Penn State (8-17, 0-13)
Thursday, Feb. 21, 7:15 p.m - Champaign, Ill. - Assembly Hall (16,618)
Big Ten Network (Announcers: Dave Revsine, Jim Jackson)

Notes (from Penn State sports information):

- THE GAME: Penn State will continue a run of four of its final six regular season games on the road Thursday at Illinois. The Lions downed the Illini, 54-52, in the Jordan Center last year in the lone meeting. Eight of the last 10 meetings have been decided by five points or less and six by two points or less. This will be the lone regular season meeting this year and Penn State's first game at Illinois since dropping a 68-51 decision in 2011. Penn State is 5-11 all-time at Illinois, last winning there 38-33 in 2009, but has won three of the last five games there. Illinois leads the series 24-13, but PSU has won six of the last 10. Penn State is seeking its first conference win of the season and will look to end a 17-game road losing skid, dating to a victory at Boston College in November 2011, and a 15-game Big Ten road losing skid dating to a victory at Minnesota on March 6, 2011.

- LIONS FIND OFFENSIVE BALANCE/POST 70 IN BACK-TO-BACK GAMES: Penn State posted two of its best efforts of the season in close losses to Iowa (74-72) and at No. 4 Michigan (79-71) in its last two outings, logging 70 points in back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since the 2006 season. The 71 points at Michigan marked the most in a Big Ten road game since an 81-70 win at Northwestern on Feb. 17, 2010. After playing the first 11 Big Ten games with no more than two players reaching double-figure scoring in a game and averaging 54.8 ppg, the Lions had three players vs. Iowa and four at Michigan reach the mark - Penn State's most since four scored in double-digits vs. New Hampshire on Dec. 23.


- 15 of Penn State's 31 Big Ten road wins have come in the state of Illinois. The Lions' five wins at Illinois rank second to their 10 at Northwestern for most at a Big Ten opponent.

- D.J. Newbill is the only Big Ten player to appear in the conference statistical rankings for Big Ten games in scoring (4th), rebounding (18th) and assists (3rd).

- D.J. Newbill is posting 18.2 ppg in his last five outings with two of his eight 20-point games on the year. He has scored in double digits in nine straight games.

- Sasa Borovnjak's 17 points at Michigan were a career high and came one game after posting 14 vs. Iowa, which had previously marked his most ever in a Big Ten game. He is posting 12.0 ppg while shooting 62.5% from the floor in his last three games.

- PSU's 79-71 loss at No. 4 Michigan was the first B1G game the Lions did not trail by double-digits in on the year and the second they didn't trail at the half.

- Penn State has posted it two best assist totals on the season in the last two games posting 15 at Michigan and 17 vs. Iowa, the most in two seasons under coach Patrick Chambers.

- PSU shot a season-best 47.1% (8-17) from three vs. Iowa and tied a season high with 8 threes, marking the most in Big Ten play and second time over 40% from the arc on the year.

- Ross Travis posted his third double-double of the season with 11 pts and 10 rebs at Michigan. It marked his sixth double-digit rebounding game, which ranks third in the Big Ten.

- Penn State's last three road opponents have averaged 30.0 ppg at the foul line.

- Newbill (10) or Marshall (10) have led the Lions in scoring in 20 of the 22 games since Tim Frazier went down with injury.

- D.J. Newbill ranks third in the Big Ten with 167 free throw attempts trailing only Cody Zeller (191) and Aaron White (180). Brandon Paul (161) is the only other player within 25 attempts. Newbill has gotten to the foul line at least once in 52 of 55 career games.

- Newbill (4th, 16.2 ppg) and Marshall (5th, 15.0 ppg) are the 2nd highest scoring tandem in Big Ten games (31.2 ppg), behind Michigan's Trey Burke (2nd, 19.4) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (7th, 14.5), 33.9 ppg.

Starting lineup:

D.J. Newbill: G, Soph., 6-4, 205 - 16.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.1 apg
Nick Colella: G, Sr., 6-3, 195 - 9.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Jermaine Marshall: G, Jr., 6-4, 205 - 14.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Ross Travis: F, Soph., 6-6, 225 - 6.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
Sasa Borovnjak: F, Sr., 6-9, 240 - 6.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Off the bench:

Brandon Taylor: F, Fr., 6-7, 235 - 6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Jon Graham: F, Soph., 6-8, 225 - 2.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Donovon Jack: F, Fr., 6-9, 205 - 1.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg

Series history:

Series record: Illinois leads 24-13
Series streak: Penn State W1
Record @ Champaign: Illinois leads 11-5
Series streak @ Champaign: Illinois W2
Last meeting: Penn State 54, No. 22 Illinois 52 (Jan. 19, 2012 @ State College)
Groce vs. Penn State: First meeting

Notable quotable:

"I think we're moving the ball a lot better. We're moving it from side to side, we're getting it below the free throw line, we're really getting it to our spots and getting it inside out.

I know we can compete with anybody in the Big Ten. I know Michigan is up there and we were right there with them. I think we can compete with anybody. … I feel like we're getting better each day. I think we're just going to keep working toward that, coming in with great attitudes and just trying to get better." -- PSU guard Nick Colella.

"We're working harder. The guys are putting in the extra work. I think we're spreading the court more. Coach has put in some new sets that other teams weren't ready for. Teams scouted for us, and we had some new things, some new wrinkles that helped us. Just confidence, guys are going into the games like we've got nothing to lose. We're out here playing basketball. We've got nothing else to do." -- PSU guard D.J. Newbill

PSU team information:

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