Penn State Roughs Up Purdue

The Nittany Lions give Chambers an easy victory in his first Big Ten game at the Jordan Center.

After a two-game road losing streak to open Big Ten play, first-year Penn State coach Pat Chambers beat the snot out of his team in a couple of grueling practices.

The Nittany Lions responded by pummeling favored Purdue in the conference home opener at the Jordan Center Thursday night. The 65-45 blowout was PSU's first victory over the Boilermakers in seven games, dating back to 2009.

“Penn State played hard and we didn't,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter.

Indeed, while PSU (9-7, 1-2) received a huge boost on the finesse end of things when forward Billy Oliver finally found his stroke and buried 7 of 11 3-pointers for a career-high 21 points, the Lions dominated because they played harder.

They won the battle of the boards, 38-26. Defensively, they held the Boilermakers to 15 field goals and only eight points in the paint -- a stunning number given how small PSU is.

The unsung hero was sturdy guard Matt Glover, who had all of two points but rounded out his game with 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Come to think of it, he really wasn't unsung at all.

“Just awesome minutes,” Chambers raved.

“If we could get anyone to play as hard as Matt Glover…” Painter said. “He clearly played harder than anyone trying to guard him.”

Penn State never trailed in the game, building an early lead by controlling the glass, playing strong defense and hitting 3-pointers (6 of 13 in the first half).

The Lions were up 32-18 at the break and appeared to be in trouble when the Boilers (12-4, 2-1) rallied to make it 36-32 early in the second. But then State turned up the intensity and pulled away for good.

Leading the way was junior guard Tim Frazier, who had 15 points and did a terrific job of setting up Oliver by slashing down the lane and kicking the ball out.

“He has four guys on him and yet still picks out the right pass,” Oliver said.

Walk-on guard Nick Colella also played a key role. With starter Cammeron Woodyard out with a hamstring issue, Chambers turned to the junior Colella for additional playing time ahead of highly regarded freshman Trey Lewis.

Colella logged 17 minutes and looked right at home mixing it up with Purdue, finishing with three points, three rebounds, an assist and no turnovers.

Why Colella over Lewis?

“Nick played hard in practice,” Chambers said. “I don't care who you are. You could be the last guy on the bench or Tim Frazier. If you're going to come out and compete for two days, through two grueling practices and you're going to show me something, you're gonna play.”

Speaking of those grueling practices, Chambers said he held them because he felt PSU “gave in a little bit to the environment -- to our youth, to our inexperience” in road losses at Michigan and Northwestern. He felt making things more difficult in practice would help solve that.

Frazier said the move paid off.

“There was no doubt in my mind that we would compete,” he explained. “I didn't know what the score was going to be at the end. But I knew we were going to compete.”

It is doubtful anyone imagined the Boilermakers, a seven-point road favorite, being dusted by 20. Their previous three losses -- to Alabama and Butler on neutral courts, and Xavier on the road -- were by a combined 14 points.

“We won a couple of games (over Iowa and Illinois) and were fat and sassy,” Painter said.

Chambers actually cleared his bench in the final minutes. And that was probably a good thing for the regulars.

“I'm not pulling back at all,” he said. “I already told Tim, get ready to practice and practice hard tomorrow. I'm gonna keep driving them. And you know what? They want it.”

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