Nittany Lions Break Nebraska

Penn State picks up the pace late in pulling away from the Cornhuskers at the Jordan Center.


Penn State coach Pat Chambers summed up Saturday's sloppy slugfest with Nebraska at the Jordan Center in a very colorful was.

“It was an ugly fistfight,” he explained. “It was like a rock fight. It was ugly. I'm OK with ugly, just so you know, as long as (we) get the win.”

And the Nittany Lions did, overcoming 16 turnovers and a spirited second-half Cornhusker rally to capture a 56-43 victory. PSU improved to 15-9 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten with the win, while Nebraska fell to 13-10 and 5-6.

Whether rocks or bricks were the order of the afternoon (the Cornhuskers shots 10 percent from the arc and 29.4 percent from the floor), perhaps it was fitting that a sort of breakage wound up being the difference in the game.

We're talking fast-breakage, to be more exact.

PSU had four breakaway baskets (including three dunks) in the final six minutes. Along with a couple of timely 3-pointers by freshman guard Shep Garner, it was enough to quell road-challenged Nebraska.

“We tell them all the time (to) look up the floor; up the floor is your friend,” Chambers said. “… Looking backward? Not so much your friend.”

“Those were killers,” Cornhusker coach Tim Miles said of State's series of run-out baskets down the stretch.

Penn State finished with 15 fastbreak points in the game, and a dozen of them came in the second half. That may not seem like a lot, but given how much both teams struggled offensively Saturday, every one was vital.

Nebraska scored only 13 points in the first half, yet still only trailed by nine at the break because PSU was also challenged on the offensive end. So when the Lions got hot early in the second half, it looked like the game was over. Struggling forward Ross Travis, of all people, hit a 16-footer with 15:07 left in the game to make it 37-17.

With nothing working offensively, Miles turned to his defense for a spark, as the Cornhuskers began to press. And Penn State initially could not handle it. Simply inbounding the ball was an issue. Lazy passes were picked off.

“We were throwing the ball all over the gym,” Lion guard Geno Thorpe said.

It led to a scoring drought that covered more than six and a half minutes. And yet, PSU still led by six (37-31) before Garner hit a triple with 8:32 showing. Then Lion guard Devin Foster leaked out for a fastbreak hoop to make it 42-31.

Nebraska was not done yet. A steal and conventional 3-point play by Terran Petteway made it 42-38 with 5:56 left. But then Penn State broke the press and Thorpe threw down a dunk.

Petteway countered with a 3-pointer (one of only 2 on 20 attempts for his team) to make it 44-41. By this point, however, the Lions had solved the press (attacking it with four guards), and used a Foster layup, a Garner trey, and breakout dunks by Thorpe and guard D.J. Newbill to seal it.

Thorpe's dunk in that span made it 53-43 with 1:02 showing.

“It's like, uh-oh, we're done here,” Miles said. “You could just see it on the guys' faces.”

“We needed those breakouts to calm us down and obviously to put points on the board,” Thorpe said.

NEWBILL: UP AND DOWN

The Big Ten's leading scorer going into the game, Newbill took only eight shots, making four, for 11 points. Nebraska doubled him all over the place, and he show good poise by not forcing shots.

However, he was not so poised in another way. Once again, Newbill struggled hanging on to the ball. His six turnovers matched a season high.

BATTLE OF THE BOARDS

Penn State crushed Nebraska when it came to rebounding, 39-26. The Cornhuskers missed 36 shots but only had five offensive rebounds. And two of those were team rebounds.

NEW LOOK LINEUP

Chambers continues to tinker with his starting five. Saturday, the senior Travis came off the bench for only the second time this season. He was replaced by center Jordan Dickerson.

Dickerson had two points, six rebounds and a pair of second-half blocks.

Travis has two points and one rebound in only 14 minutes.

The starting five of Newbill, Garner, Thorpe, Taylor and Dickerson was used once before this season - in a loss at Rutgers Jan. 3. Chambers has used five different starting lineup this year.

HUSKER STARS STRUGGLE

The dynamic duo of Petteway (13) and forward Shavon Shields (12) may have combined for 25 points. But they were a collective 2 of 13 from distance and 8 of 25 from the floor.

No other Nebraska player reached double figures in scoring.

The Huskers are 1-7 on the road this season, including 0-5 in the Big Ten. They were averaging 50 points per game on the road in the B1G (and giving up 64.5) prior to Saturday's loss.

NEXT UP

…For the Lions is a Wednesday game at Ohio State. It tips at 7 p.m. and can be seen on BTN.


Fight On State Top Stories