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Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: Northwestern 70, Penn State 54

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at the running blog from Penn State's 70-54 setback to Northwestern on Thursday inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State -
G - Marshall, G - Newbill, F - Travis, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
Northwestern - G - Hearn, G - Sobolewski, F - Abrahamson, F - Swopshire, C - Olah

14:56 1st Half - Penn State 6, Northwestern 6
The Nittany Lions got off to a good start on the offensive end of the floor with baskets from Ross Travis, Sasa Borovnjak and Brandon Taylor, all of which coming close to the basket.  On the defensive end of the floor, Penn State played some zone defense on the opening possessions of the game.  The Lions are active early on both ends of the floor, which is crucial tonight.

9:04 1st Half - Northwestern 15, Penn State 12
Northwestern built a 6-2 lead in the opening minutes, but the Nittany Lions countered with an 8-0 scoring run to go on top, 10-6.  However, the Wildcats answered with a 9-2 scoring spurt of their own heading into the second media timeout of a fast-paced first half.  Forward Jared Swopshire has nine of Northwestern's 15 points.  Keep an eye on the free throw numbers moving forward.  The Lions want to visit the charity stripe more than they have during the first two Big Ten games.

3:19 1st Half - Northwestern 27, Penn State 16
Northwestern's scoring has grown to 19-4 during a span of nearly nine minutes of game time.  Penn State has gone ice cold from the floor after a very good start.  The Nittany Lions went 3-for-6 to start the game.  Since then, they are just 5-for-15 from the field.  Additionally, Penn State is 0-for-6 from the 3-point arc.  Travis ended a 6:20 scoring drought with a lay-in to make it a 21-14 game, but the Wildcats have out-scored the Lions 6-2 since then to claim an 11-point edge.

Halftime - Northwestern 33, Penn State 18
Penn State could not find much offense during the first half.  After going on top 12-8 at the 12:04 mark, the Lions were out-scored 25-6 to close out the half.  During that span, the Nittany Lions managed just two field goals, one from Travis and a reverse layup from Jon Graham.  Penn State shot 31 percent fro the field and 0-for-7 from 3-point range.  Northwestern shot 48 percent from the field and 4-for-12 from the arc.  Penn State must do a better job on both ends of the floor out of the locker room, but it boils down to making shots.  On their home floor, the Lions need to find a way to put the ball in the basket.  Being aggressive and getting to the foul line can help alleviate some of the pressure making outside shots.  The Lions trail by 15, but there is a lot of basketball yet to be played.

14:35 2nd Half - Northwestern 41, Penn State 24
Northwestern's lead grew to 21 points following a pair of early 3-pointers in the first three minutes.  D.J. Newbill earned two free throws, and Marshall knocked down a contested jumper in the lane to set the margin at 17.  Penn State's shooting numbers speak to the offensive struggles.  The Lions have gotten good looks, but the shots have not fallen.

11:55 2nd Half - Northwestern 45, Penn State 30
After trailing by as much as 21, the Nittany Lions showed some life heading into the media timeout with six-straight points.  Newbill tallied an old-fashioned 3-point play to make it a 15-point game.  Borovnjak earned two free throws heading into the media timeout, which could trim the margin down to 13.  Penn State's defensive effort needs to improve for the Lions to get back into the game.

3:31 2nd Half - Northwestern 61, Penn State 45
The Nittany Lions showed some life mid-way through the second half with a 9-1 run to close within 13 on the scoreboard, but Northwesterne countered with a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach at 56-33.  The Wildcats have hit eight 3-pointers tonight, while the Lions have struggled mightily on offense.  Penn State is shooting just 32 percent from the field and 15 percent from the arc.

FINAL - Northwestern 70, Penn State 54
The Nittany Lions got as a close as 13 in the second half, but struggled to get much flow on the offensive end of the floor for the second-straight game.  Penn State shot just 32 percent from the field and 20 percent from the 3-point arc (3-for-15).  Newbill led the way with 20 points, marking his fifth game of 20-plus this season.  Northwestern shot 46 percent from the field in the victory and was led by 18 points from Dave Sobolewski.  Give the Wildcats credit for their defensive effort in forcing the Lions to take tough shots.

Penn State has a lot of basketball yet to play in 2013, and the Nittany Lions need to approach Sunday's trip to Purdue with a short-term memory.  The Big Ten slate is a marathon, and the Lions have 15 more opportunities to get better between now and March.  Looking at the final stats, Penn State attempted 18 free throws on Thursday night, more than the free throw total of the first two Big Ten games combined (12).  Additionally, Penn State has now out-rebounded its opponent in nine-consecutive games after posting a 37-33 edge against Northwestern.  Nonetheless, the Lions will need to play much better on both ends of the floor Sunday afternoon when they travel to Mackey Arena.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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