Penn State forward Brandon Taylor may well be the most improved player in the Big Ten, having boosted his career scoring average heading into his senior season (7.9) by nearly nine points (16.6) prior to Saturday’s game at Nebraska.
But every once in a while, Taylor reverts to his former self — and we’re not talking about the inconsistent scorer. Rather, he tends to pick up senseless fouls, the sort of hacks a veteran leader must avoid so he can be on the floor when his team needs him most.
Such was the case at Pinnacle Bank Arena, as Taylor committed two fouls — one in a loose-ball situation, one on a Cornhusker shot — within two seconds of each other less than 15 seconds into the second half. They were personal numbers two and three for Taylor, and sent him to the bench with the Lions trailing 32-31.
And that was pretty much the game as Nebraska unleashed a 17-2 run to pull comfortably ahead on the way to a 70-54 victory.
Penn State fell to 12-13 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten with the loss. The Huskers improved to 14-12 and 6-7.
After Taylor went out early in the second half, Nebraska slowly but surely began to get comfortable on the offensive end. Yet it was only 41-33 when Andrew White hit a 3-pointer with 15:32 remaining.
PSU coach Pat Chambers had seen enough, and sent Taylor back to the scorer’s table. He checked back in at 14:24, but by that point it did not matter. The Cornhuskers — and especially White — had seized momentum.
The lead grew to 49-33 before Taylor hit a pair of free throws at 11:28. But that was too little, too late. The edge ballooned to 66-38, as PSU — which was coming off a bye — looked gassed.
White finished with a career high 35 for Nebraska, trailing only Maryland center Diamond Stone’s 39 for tops against the Lions this year.
Taylor was the only Penn State player to hit double figures, scoring 14. But only five of them came in the second half.
The Lions play host to No. 4 Iowa Wednesday. The game tips at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on BTN.