In doing so, PSU also extended the longest winning streak under fifth-year head coach Ed DeChellis to six games, improving to 9-4 on the season and starting Big Ten play at 1-0.
The Wildcats, who gave up their most points at home since beating the Lions 85-79 in double overtime in 2003, fell to 5-5 and 0-1 in the league.
Northwestern led 35-34 at the break. But Penn State started the second half with a more athletic look than usual — guards Talor Battle and Stanley Pringle as well as forward D.J. Jackson joined Cornley and Claxton on the floor — and the Wildcats were overmatched.
I thought we needed to get some easier baskets out of transition, DeChellis said on his post-game radio show. They did.
Claxton's tip-in at the 14:59 mark capped a 13-2 run that gave the Lions a 47-37 lead and Northwestern never seriously threatened the rest of the way. Whenever the Wildcats tried to take the lead below 10 points, PSU found Cornley or Claxton in the paint and the they scored with practically no opposition.
Cornley finished with 22 points (and 11 boards) but took only 14 shots. Claxton had 18 points (and 11 boards) but attempted only 12 shots.
Pringle had a career-high 17 points and six assists off the bench for the Lions, while Battle added 14 points, four assists and three steals. That duo combined for three turnovers.
They came in the game and brought a lot of energy by pushing the ball as fast as they could, Cornley said.
Penn State came into this game 8-0 at home but winless away from the Jordan Center on the season — dropping three neutral site affairs and one at St. Joe's. Next up is a tilt at Illinois Sunday.
The Illini fell a home game to Tennessee State Dec. 30 and face Ohio State in Assembly Hall Thursday night. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, will stay in Illinois to prepare for Sunday's action.
The last time an opponent scored more than 79 against Northwestern in Welsh-Ryan was Indiana (89-67) on Feb. 5, 2000.
DeChellis had been going with a 10-man rotation in non-conference play. But now that things are serious, only seven Lions — Battle, Claxton, Cornley, Jackson, Morrissey, Pringle and Walker — played more than 10 minutes.
Sunday's game is on the Big Ten Network. Didn't take long for that mess to start sucking for Penn State fans, did it?