PSU Completes Winless First Half

Nittany Lions hit the halfway mark of the Big Ten season without a conference victory. Purdue handed Ed DeChellis' squad its ninth-straight loss Sunday.

Penn State carried an eight-game losing streak into Sunday's road tilt with Purdue. Despite being winless in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions had been widely credited for playing hard and at least having a shot at winning practically every conference game.

But now even that backhanded compliment is out the window for Ed DeChellis' sad-sack bunch, which trailed by two at intermission against the 10th-ranked Boilermakers before mailing it in during the second half.

Penn State scored 20 points while allowing 38 in the final 20 minutes on the way to being hammered, 66-46. The Lions dropped to 8-13 on the season a 0 for the first half of the Big Ten campaign (nine games).

Three players cracked double figures for Penn State, let by junior guard Talor Battle's 13 (on 6-of-13 shooting). But the Boilermakers did a good job of limiting his looks by hedging out on screens, and PSU's big men -- as usual -- were incapable of rolling to the hole to take advantage.

Small forward D.J. Jackson brought plenty of energy and 11 points, but was limited to 28 minutes due to foul trouble. Rookie wingman Bill Edwards pitched in with 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

But beyond that trio, PSU might as well have been playing three on five, especially in the second half. Starters Chris Babb and Andrew Ott were among the seven Lions who played but failed to score. In fact, beyond Battle, Edwards and Jackson, the only PSU players who made a field goal were reserve big men Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks, who had a couple of buckets each.

PSU didn't play particularly well in the first half, going seven minutes without a field goal at one point. But the Boilermakers' poor shooting from the arc (1 of 9) prevented them from pulling away and the lead was 28-26 at the break.

That all changed in the second half as sharp-shooter Robbie Hummel popped a pair of early 3-pointers. Add in a trio of Nittany Lion turnovers in the first three minutes of the half and a Mackey Arena crowd of 14,123 thirsty for blood, and it didn't take long for the Boilermakers to deliver the knockout punch.

It came in the form of 10-0 run that boosted the halftime margin to 38-26. Edwards settled things down with a pair of free throws and a short jumper wrapped around another Hummel triple. But then Chris Kramer hit a shot-clock beating 3-point heave for Purdue to make it 47-30 with 15:34 to go and the Lions were finished.

With nine conference games remaining -- and five of those games against ranked opponents -- PSU is now facing the prospect of its first winless Big Ten season. The only time the Lions have gone longer than this before earning their first league win was in 2003, when they opened 0-10 and finished 2-14 in what would be Jerry Dunn's final season at the helm.

But incredible though it might sound, this conference regular-season losing streak does not even crack the top three in DeChellis' seven-year watch. The Lions lost 13 straight in 2007, 11 straight in 2005 and 10 straight in 2004.

By comparison, outside of that awful start in 2003, Dunn had never lost more than six straight games in a single conference regular season.

Purdue is now 18-3 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Hummel led the way for the Boilermakers with 23 points and six rebounds.

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