UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a dominant performance at Northwestern on Thursday, the Nittany Lion basketball team (15-15, 6-11) traveled straight to Minnesota in preparation for the final regular season game of the season against the Gophers (18-12, 7-10). Penn State and Minnesota will tip on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. inside Williams Arena (BTN).
Fueled by superb defense, Penn State powered past Northwestern for its sixth conference win of the season. Standing at .500 heading into the final Sunday of the regular season, the Nittany Lions remain focused on being the best team they can be at the end of the season.
"I think we just have to keep getting better, and I think we are," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "Jordan Dickerson is getting better. Brandon Taylor is getting better. Graham Woodward is getting better. A lot of guys are getting better. The crazy thing is, I think D.J. Newbill is getting better. We just need to stay on that path and control what we can control."
Take a look through some things to watch for in Penn State's final regular season game of the 2013-'14 season.
Complete Team Effort Drives Lions at Northwestern
Road victories are often a byproduct of contributions from not just a team's go-to players but everyone on the bench. Thursday night's 27-point victory at Northwestern was a living, breathing example of a team victory for the Nittany Lion basketball team. Eight different players accounted for Penn State's 59 points in Evanston. The Lions shot 50 percent from the field and held Northwestern to 23 percent shooting for the game. The collective attitude and energy the Nittany Lions brought on both ends of the floor was the difference in Thursday night's triumph, which marked the largest margin of victory in a Big Ten road game since 1995. The Wildcats scored the first basket of the game, but never led again in a truly dominant performance from the Nittany Lions.
"I think our rotations were tighter (on defense)," Chambers said. "I felt like guys helped each other out. There was a lot of trust out there. Our guys were dialed in for the entire 40 minutes. I'd like to see us play harder without fouling in the second half. But for the most part, our man, our zone, our three-quarter-court pressure, I thought we did a really good job. We played hard. We played with good energy. We communicated. Those things were good. That's our effort and our attitude."
Penn State has a chance to make some history on Sunday evening in Minnesota. With three Big Ten road victories in hand, the Nittany Lions have tied the program-high for conference road wins. A Penn State team has never won four Big Ten games away from home in a single season. Additionally, the Nittany Lions now have five true road victories in 2013-'14, which is the most since 2008-'09 when the Blue and White won six games during its march to the NIT title. Coach Chambers often speaks to the team about playing with a road attitude. The Lions have been strong in Big Ten play away from home because of their competitive edge and ability to play together for 40 minutes. Playing with a positive, yet relentless attitude has been a big contributor to the success on the road.
Big Ten Bracket on the Horizon
There are six games remaining on the 2014 Big Ten schedule (two on Saturday and four on Sunday). Seeding for the Big Ten Tournament remains wide open following Thursday's games. Michigan will be the No. 1 seed after clinching the title outright with a victory at Illinois. Positions two through 12 in the final standings are still to be decided. The Nittany Lions are currently tied with Illinois for 10th spot. However, the Lions are just one game out of seventh, which is occupied by Minnesota and Indiana. The Nittany Lions could finish anywhere from eighth to 11th depending on the results this weekend. With a win at Minnesota, the Lions could finish no better than eighth and no worse than 10th. With a Minnesota win, the Lions could finish no better than 10th and no worse than 11th. We'll detail the possible scenarios on Sunday prior to the game.
Minnesota heads into the regular season finale battling for a spot in the NCAA Tournament field. Having lost three of their last four, the Gophers have little margin for error in the NCAA picture. Minnesota had the week off leading up to Sunday's clash with the Nittany Lions. The Gophers battled, but fell short in Ann Arbor against Michigan last Saturday. They have lost three of their last four.
Junior guard Andre Hollins leads Minnesota's offensive attack. He is averaging 14.6 points per contest. Junior Dandre Mathieu is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game, and he leads the team in assists at 4.3 per game. Austin Hollins is the third Minnesota player averaging double-figures. Austin Hollins averages 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Six-foot-11 center Elliott Eliason is the team's leading rebounder at 7.1 per contest.
The Golden Gophers play an aggressive style of defense under first-year head coach Richard Pitino. Pressing on seemingly every defensive possession, Minnesota leads the conference in steals at 7.5 per game. Individually, Austin Hollins and Mathieu rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in steals.
The Golden Gophers edged the Nittany Lions, 68-65, in the Bryce Jordan Center on Jan. 8. Penn State led the vast majority of the second half before a late surge from the Gophers.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (14-15, 5-11) begins its final week of regular season competition on Thursday at 7 p.m. (ESPNU) inside Welsh-Ryan Arena when it meets Northwestern (12-17, 5-11) for the only time in 2014.
With two games to play before the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, the Nittany Lions are set to embark on a five-day road trip. First up is a clash against Northwestern in Evanston. From there, the Lions till fly to Minneapolis in preparation for Sunday's 5:15 p.m. tip at Williams Arena against Minnesota.
"I'm focused on us and becoming the best team we can be by the end of the year," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "But, they (Northwestern) have slowed it down, juicing the clock a little bit and taking the best shot available. Then, they play very good defense because they switch one through four."
Take a look through some things to watch for in Penn State's lone regular season matchup against the Northwestern Wildcats.
VIDEO: Northwestern Preview
Head coach Patrick Chambers and sophomore Donovon Jack preview Thursday's game at Northwestern. Take a look.
Lions No Strangers to Close Games
The Nittany Lions have played more than their fair share of close games during Big Ten play in 2014. In all, nine of Penn State's 16 conference games have been decided by five points or less. Additionally, the Lions have had six one-possession games in Big Ten play, which is the most among any conference teams. Nine of the last 16 Big Ten games have been decided by an average of 2.8 points per game. Coach Chambers frequently talks about the fine line between winning and losing in the Big Ten. Simply put, two or three possessions in wins or losses have shaped the Lions' conference record. With a host of experience in tight battles, the Lions will head on the road looking for their fifth road win of the season. The last time Penn State had five or more road wins was during the 2008-'09 season.
Final Push in Big Ten Standings
The Big Ten Tournament bracket will be announced on Sunday evening following Penn State's clash with Minnesota. One thing is certain leading up to the final day of regular season play - the battle for seeding is wide open. Michigan has clinched the tournament's No. 1 seed, but the other 11 spots will be decided in the next five days. Indiana is currently in seventh spot in the standings. Just two games separate the Hoosiers from Northwestern in 12th. The Nittany Lions are currently in a three-way tie for 10th. Ten games remain on the regular season calendar.
The Northwestern Wildcats head into senior night on a six-game slide. The Wildcats tallied four wins in a five-game span in late January, including road wins at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but have not won since Feb. 1. Under first-year head coach Chris Collins, Northwestern is among the top defensive teams in the Big Ten. The Cats are third in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 63.4 points per game. They are also holding teams to 41.2 percent shooting from the field.
However, offensive production has been challenging for Northwestern. The Wildcats have slowed the tempo down during Big Ten play. As a result, Northwestern is averaging 54.6 points per game in conference matchups, which is last in the Big Ten. Northwestern ranks 12th in field goal percentage (39.6 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (30.2 percent). The Wildcats are also 12th in rebounding margin (-3.7).
Senior Drew Crawford
is Northwestern's leading scorer at 15.5 points per game. Crawford leads the Big Ten in minutes played
at 36.3 per game. Sophomore guard Tre
Demps is averaging 11.1 points per contest.
Sophomore center Alex Olah is among the most improved players in the Big
Ten. The 7-foot center is averaging 8.8
points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season.
Olah is ranked fourth in the Big Ten in blocked shots at 1.9 per game.
The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series with Northwestern, 27-15. Penn State is 11-9 in games played in Evanston.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.
The first weekend of the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's Swimming & Diving Championships.
In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon. It all came down to the 4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading into the final event. The Lions stormed to a victory in the relay to seal the title.
"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track & Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a championship win to remember."
Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion, the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title. The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.
"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."
In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday. Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London Olympics medalist Matt Grevers. Ryan is the first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten Championships. His efforts powered the men's team to fifth in the team standings. The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's Championships.
With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. Penn State will meet either Northwestern or Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday. The semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend. Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten individual champions. Junior Matt Brown is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title. The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN Sunday at 2 p.m.
There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this weekend. The 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis. The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota. The Lions will learn their seed for the tournament on Sunday.
The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in March. Penn State will travel to Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.
Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice on March 17. The Nittany Lions will practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).
The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events for Penn State teams. The No. 1 wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The finals will take place on March 22. The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships sessions.
In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall on March 22. Across campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on March 25.
Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., beginning on March 20. The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, as well. The Penn State fencing teams also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.
The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas. The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.
With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State teams competing in postseason competition. Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on GoPSUsports.com.
Key Dates Ahead in March
March 7 - Noon (BTN) - Lady Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - Indianapolis)
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9 - 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring Football
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus, Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.); Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)
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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Heading into its matchup against Wisconsin yesterday, the Penn State men's basketball team knew that the key to upsetting the 14th-ranked team in the country was finding a way to match the efficiency of the Badgers.
With Wisconsin entering the game on a seven-game winning streak and featuring four players averaging double-figures on the season, equaling the Badgers output and shooting prowess would not be easy.
Although the Nittany Lions would nearly pull the feat off, even out-shooting the Badgers 48 percent to 44 percent, Wisconsin's deadliness from beyond the arc proved to be too much for Penn State to overcome. The Badgers hit eight 3-pointers compared to just one for the Nittany Lions in what ended as a 71-66 setback for the Blue and White.
"We needed to hold them under seven 3-pointers and that was the difference in the game," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said. "They go in the paint and act like they're going for a layup and then they kick it out for a three. Those were daggers."
Down 31-27 at halftime, Chambers' team made numerous plays down the stretch, shooting 50 percent after the break and going on a 12-5 run from the 15:32 mark to the 11:23 mark, yet saw the Badgers answer each big shot with one of their own.
Not only did the Badgers match their season shooting average in the second half by hitting 46 percent of their shots en route to 40 second half points, they also went 14-15 from the free throw line after the break.
"They're a good team the way they pass the ball and execute their offense," redshirt junior shooting guard D.J. Newbill said. "Their system is flawless."
The Badgers also made the Nittany Lions pay for their miscues, generating 17 points off of 11 Penn State turnovers and forcing star point guard Tim Frazier to spend 18 minutes on the bench after picking up three early fouls.
"We take pride in trying to have less than 10 (turnovers), but they scored pretty much every time we turned the ball over," Chambers said. "We have to take care of the ball a little bit better."
That being said, the Nittany Lions certainly did their part to give the fans that filled the Bryce Jordan Center a thrilling game.
Led by Newbill, who once again paced the team with 23 points, the Lions began to come alive at the 15:32 mark. When down 43-33, sophomore forward Ross Travis came up with a steal and relayed the ball to Newbill for a layup.
Newbill and junior guard John Johnson continued to turn the momentum over the next 4:09, hitting two baskets apiece before sophomore forward Donovon Jack tipped in a Newbill miss to narrow the Badgers lead to 48-45 with 11:23 remaining.
"I thought when Tim went out our secondary players played really hard," Chambers said. "They were flying all over the floor and got (Wisconsin) to take shots they weren't ready to take. Now they just have to do it a little longer."
With the momentum on Penn State's side, Wisconsin guard Ben Brust began to heat up, scoring the Badgers next eight points, including two 3-pointers before Nigel Hayes drained a pair of free throws to put Wisconsin up 58-51 at the 7:45 mark.
Though the Nittany Lions would continue to claw back, even cutting Wisconsin's lead to 66-64 with 18 seconds left after a second chance layup by Frazier, the Badgers went 11-12 from the free throw line in the final 6:16 to hand the Nittany Lions their fifth conference loss by five or fewer points.
"That's the No. 14 team in the country," Chambers said. "We're one stop away or one less turnover away from sitting here having beaten two top-25 teams in one week."
With two remaining games left in the regular season before the Big Ten tournament, the 14-15 Nittany Lions know there is every opportunity for them to finish the season with the program's first winning record since 2010-'11.
The question that remains is how badly the Lions want to keep improving, and if you ask Chambers, that question has an obvious answer.
"If you hate losing then it's really easy to come back on Monday and try to get better," Chambers said. "I think a lot of guys in that locker room hate losing so we're going to come back and get better and finish the season as strong as we can and be the best team we can be."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of sweeping Ohio State in the season series, the Nittany Lion basketball team (14-14, 5-10) will play its final home game on Sunday at noon (BTN) against No. 14 Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5).
D.J. Newbill's 17 second-half points powered the Nittany Lions to a thrilling 65-63 victory over the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes on Thursday. With three games to play, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers is taking things one game at a time and focused solely on helping the Lions be the best team they can be on Sunday afternoon.
"They are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, if not the country," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "They have great leadership. They are a veteran group. It's going to be a great challenge for us, especially coming off of this win. Hopefully we have learned from big victories and big wins."
Take a look through some things to watch for in Penn State's lone regular season matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers.
VIDEO: Tim Frazier Feature
Senior point guard Tim Frazier will suit up in the Blue and White for the final time at home on Sunday afternoon. The Houston, Texas, native has seen the highest of highs with a berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and the lowest of lows after missing virtually all of the 2012-'13 season with an Achilles injury. Frazier embodies what a Penn State student-athlete is all about with outstanding leadership on and off the floor. The mark he has left on the program is significant, and his fellow teammates and head coach will miss No. 23. Take a look.
With just three regular seasons left on the schedule, the Nittany Lions head into Sunday's clash looking to ride the wave of momentum after Thursday's big win over the Buckeyes. Penn State's ability to make plays in the latter stages of games played an instrumental role in all five victories in conference play. Things start on the defensive end of the floor. Penn State is ranked fifth in the conference in field goal percentage defense. The Lion perimeter defense will face a stiff test against the Badgers on Sunday. Wisconsin is third in the conference three-point shooting at 37 percent. Badger guard Josh Gasser leads the Big Ten 3-point shooting at 46 percent. Wisconsin averages 7.7 made 3-pointers per game.
Newbill Among the Big Ten's Best
Junior guard D.J. Newbill's scoring in 2014 has been well documented, but Newbill's offensive efficiency cannot be understated. On Thursday against Ohio State, Newbill scored 23 points on just nine field goal attempts. The Philly native has now scored 15 or more points on 15 or fewer field goal attempts in 17 games this season. Newbill is leading the team in field goal percentage (46.5 percent) among Penn State players who have attempted 50 or more field goal attempts. He is also leading the team in three-point shooting at 35.5 percent. Newbill has filled the stat sheet this season, averaging 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Additionally, Newbill has visited the charity stripe 5.5 times per game.
Riding a six-game winning streak, the 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers enter Sunday's game as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten. The winning streak includes road wins over Michigan and Iowa. With three games to play, Wisconsin is still in the thick of the Big Ten title race. The Badgers are in third place, just two behind Big Ten leader Michigan. Wisconsin went 13-0 in the non-conference season.
Rated in the top four in scoring offense and scoring defense in the Big Ten, Wisconsin is a complete basketball team with talented offensive personnel capable of scoring from all over the floor. Sophomore forward Sam Dekker leads a balanced offensive attack with four players averaging double-figures. Dekker (13.6) Frank Kaminsky (13.2), Ben Brust (12.6) and Traevon Jackson (10.7) all score in double-digits. Wisconsin's fifth starter, Josh Gasser, averages 9.1 points per game.
The last three games between Penn State and Wisconsin in the Jordan Center have been decided by six points or less. The Nittany Lions are 1-2 in those games.
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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One minute may not seem like a lot of time, but for a guy like Zach Cooper, that minute was more than enough after two years of dedication and hard work.
Cooper has been a member of the Nittany Lions since joining the team as a walk-on in 2012. He has never scored a point and had previously played just three minutes in four games this season after only playing in one game last year. But with Penn State taking on the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes on senior night, head coach Patrick Chambers made an announcement 17 minutes before tipoff that Cooper would be making the first start of his career.
While his night may have lasted for just 60 seconds before he was taken out, it was still a special moment for one the team's most selfless players.
"The last time we came in (the locker room before the game) I wrote his name on the board and the team went nuts," Chambers said. "He works so hard and is so selfless in his approach that he deserved to hear his name and he earned the right to start."
Senior Night for Penn State was in many ways a chance to celebrate the career of star point guard Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions' all-time assists leader and the Big Ten's ninth-leading scorer, but it was also a night to recognize the efforts of Cooper, who for two years has done everything asked of him to benefit his team in any way possible.
Even on a team with All-Big Ten candidates like Frazier and shooting guard D.J. Newbill. It is usually Cooper that leads the team onto the floor at the start of every game.
That act of leadership is just one of many reasons why the Nittany Lions locker room will have a much different feel to it once the Ijamsville, Md. native graduates at the end of the season.
"He's such a great kid and a tireless worker with a great attitude," Chambers said. "He's great in weight room and the locker room and really pushes the other guys while helping the freshmen out."
Chambers may rave about the intangibles that Cooper displays, but for the 6-foot-1 guard, doing those things is merely part of doing his job.
Growing up in Maryland, Cooper always dreamed of playing basketball at a Division I school yet saw no scholarship offers come his way after a standout career at Urbana High. Upon graduation in 2009, Cooper spent his first two years of college playing for Division III Alfred University in New York and Gulf Coast State College in Florida, yet he always had higher aspirations for himself.
"I really didn't think I would (play at a Division I school), but I always wanted to be a college basketball player," Cooper said. "When I transferred (from Gulf Coast) I wanted to go to a bigger school and I figured why not try to walk onto a team?"
Having been a fan of Penn State since his childhood neighbor Zack Mills starred as a quarterback for the Nittany Lions football team from 2001-2004, Cooper knew what school he wanted to attend, and once he secured a tryout with the team in the summer of 2012, he didn't look back.
The irony of Cooper being the only other senior besides Frazier is that over the course of the season, the duo has consistently duked it out in practice, with Cooper often simulating the moves of opposing Big Ten point guards.
According to Frazier, Cooper's relentless hustle and demanding practice habits have done as much to prepare him for games as his own preparations have.
"He's a tough, hard-nosed defender that does everything coach asks of him and he's all about attitude," Frazier said. "From day one since he got here he's played hard defense on me and prepared me for games and he's done a phenomenal job of doing his role."
Cooper's non-stop hustle certainly hasn't made practices any easier for Frazier, but it has created a mutual respect and friendship between the two guards.
For Cooper, having the chance to be teammates with someone like Frazier is one of the many things about playing Division I basketball that still has him in awe even after two years.
"Tim is very selfless and comes to work everyday trying to get better," Cooper said. "I knew coming in that one of jobs was going to be to push him in every facet of the game and I couldn't ask for a better person to work with."
With his final home game approaching Sunday against Wisconsin, Cooper can't help but shake his head looking at where he is now compared to two years ago.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words because this all kind of went by so fast," Cooper said. "I couldn't ask to be anywhere else and to play for any other school than Penn State and especially coach Chambers."
Although his time with the Nittany Lions hasn't included a large amount of playing time, the reserve guard said that there are plenty of things more important to him than getting on the floor, such as encouraging his teammates and helping them win any way he can.
After taking such a long journey to get to Penn State and finally become a Division I basketball player, Cooper isn't taking anything for granted or letting trivial things like personal accolades prevent him from enjoying his final few weeks as a Nittany Lion.
"Right now we're focused on taking things one day at a time and winning each day," Cooper said. "(Playing) is great, but winning is much sweeter, especially for a guy like Tim that's been here a lot longer than I have."
Just as Cooper puts the results of the team above himself, his teammates go out of their way to praise his attitude and the fact that he is routinely the first guy on the bench to approach players with high-fives as they come off the court.
Redshirt junior forward Alan Wisniewski, who shares a bond with Cooper as a fellow walk-on and reserve player, said that the player affectionately known as "Coop" is one of the guys who makes it fun to come to practice every day.
"Coop's been a great guy ever since he got here and comes to practice every day with a great attitude," Wisniewski said. "He brings whatever he can to the table and we definitely appreciate what he does for the team."
Seeing Cooper leave at the end of the season is not going to be easy for anyone in the program, especially Chambers. As much as the head coach of the Nittany lions will miss having a player like Frazier around, he will be just as sad to see Cooper go.
"He's going to be missed," Chambers said. "He's definitely that guy who's wide-eyed and listens to everything to take everything in and responds in positive ways to help the team out."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After everything that he has learned from Tim Frazier over the past three years, the least that D.J. Newbill could do for his teammate was make sure he experienced a win on his senior night against Ohio State.
Just as he did the last time the Nittany Lions took on the Buckeyes on Jan. 29, Newbill paved the way for a Penn State victory, scoring 23 points, including 17 in the second half as the Lions topped their conference rival, 65-63, in thrilling fashion.
"I know what (Frazier) has been through having to sit out last year," Newbill said. "I think that gave us momentum and I'm proud to be sitting next to my brother enjoying this win."
Looking for their first victory since Feb. 12 against Indiana, the Nittany Lions started off cold before heating up at the end of the first half and carrying their momentum through halftime as they swept their season series against Ohio State for the first time since the 1997-'98 season.
On a night in which both Frazier and fellow senior guard Zach Cooper were honored in a pregame ceremony, the Nittany Lions played one of their most complete games of the season, shooting 44 percent from the field while also outrebounding the Buckeyes, 34-25, an advantage that led to 15 second-chance points.
After consecutive losses to Iowa and Nebraska, head coach Patrick Chambers said that his team was merely fed up with losing.
"We got beat pretty good by Iowa and Nebraska and I think we were mad," Chambers said. "We came out and played desperate with a sense of urgency and we played angry."
The desperation started to kick in for the Nittany Lions about halfway through the first half, as the Buckeyes came out of the gates with a 10-2 run in the first 2:49 that led to a 22-11 lead with 8:54 remaining.
Not wanting to lose at home on his senior night, Frazier began to take over, scoring seven points down the stretch including a 3-pointer from the corner at the 2:19 mark as the Nittany Lions closed the half on a 15-6 run that left them trailing the Buckeyes just 28-26 at the break.
Although the Buckeyes opened the second half with a 5-0 run, the Blue and White quickly responded with a 12-2 run highlighted by a huge Brandon Taylor 3-pointer that gave Penn State a 36-35 lead, followed by a resounding put-back dunk by sophomore center Jordan Dickerson at the 13:53 mark that thrilled the boisterous fans in attendance.
"Jordan played terrific tonight and the future is bright for him," Chambers said. "Brandon Taylor hit that big shot and grabbed seven rebounds and those little plays really help a team with their confidence. We need contributions from everyone because we win and lose together as a unit."
Dickerson and Taylor were not the only Nittany Lion role players to step up and make major contributions against the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes.
Freshman guard Geno Thorpe was relentless on defense all night while tallying nine points and three rebounds off the bench, including a thrilling dunk off of a steal with 6:04 remaining to give his team a 52-49 lead.
"(Geno) was unbelievable and made a major impact," Chambers said. "With his steals, his quickness and athleticism and the way he moved without the ball, he was definitely a positive out there."
Newbill, who shot 5-of-9 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line, brought the fans to their feet once more when he drained a dagger of a 3-pointer with 3:59 remaining to give the Lions a 55-51 lead that they would not relinquish.
Though the Buckeyes would make one final run down the stretch, Lenzelle Smith's three clanked off the front of the rim at the buzzer as the Nittany Lion faithful stormed the court in celebration, bringing back memories to last year's senior night when the Nittany Lions defeated No.4 Michigan 84-78.
Frazier, who missed the game against Michigan because of his season-ending Achilles injury, made sure to soak the moment in as he watched the fans celebrate his senior night victory.
"To be a part of this tonight means a lot and is very special and I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to wear this jersey," Frazier said. "It was very emotional and I was basically trying to hold back tears. I've had a great career and to have it happen the way it happened tonight was very special."
The emotions that Frazier felt were certainly shared by Chambers, who couldn't have been happier to see his team get a win on the same night they honored their star point guard.
"(Tim) is an amazing man," Chambers said. "After the game him and I embraced for a lengthy time and today was definitely an emotional day for me."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State returns to action in the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday following a week off from the game floor.
The Nittany Lions (13-14, 4-10) host No. 20 Ohio State (22-6, 9-6) at 7 p.m. (ESPN2) for Senior Night. The Lions knocked off the Buckeyes after D.J. Newbill drained a game-winning jumper with two seconds left in overtime. Penn State had two days off following the Nebraska game on Feb. 20 before getting back to work in the practice gym. Now, the Lions are focused on being the best team they can be when the calendar turns to March.
"We are competing at a really high level," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "We are playing against some really good teams...We need to finish strong and be the best team we can be by the end of the year. We've got to win today. That's my message. We've got to keep developing great habits that will put us in a great position to be successful."
Take a look through some things to watch for in Penn State's second matchup against Ohio State.
VIDEO: Ohio State Preview
Head coach Patrick Chambers and several Nittany Lions previewed Thursday's game against the Buckeyes. Take a look.
Frazier and Cooper to Be Honored
While their final home game in Blue and White will take place on Sunday against Wisconsin, seniors Tim Frazier and Zach Cooper will be recognized before Thursday night's tip against the Buckeyes. Frazier's impact on the Penn State program has been immense, both on and off the floor. He is a model student-athlete in the classroom, a tireless worker on the floor and a superb leader. Cooper's path to Penn State began at Gulf Coast State where he played in 2011-'12. Cooper was added to the Penn State roster as a preferred walk-on at the beginning of the fall semester in 2012. Often competing against Frazier in the practice gym, Cooper's influence on the team has been invaluable. A relentless player in the practice gym and a leader for the younger players, Cooper brings outstanding effort to the floor every time he laces up his shoes. We will have much more on the Nittany Lion seniors before the final home game of the season on Sunday against No. 14 Wisconsin.
Success Starts With Defense
Ask any one of the Nittany Lion players what the key to Thursday's second game against the Buckeyes is and they will all answer the same way - defense. Regardless of its record, the Penn State Basketball foundation remains the same. Coach Chambers wants to see his team defending and rebounding as a collective unit. Good effort on the defensive end of the floor will contribute to good offense. The Nittany Lions rank fifth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (41.3 percent). Defending the perimeter will be key against the Buckeyes.
Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes tallied an unblemished record during the non-conference season (13-0), before notching victories at Purdue and over Nebraska at home to open the season 15-0. Ohio State was ranked as high as No. 2 in the USA Today Top 25 in early December. However, the Buckeyes reached a stretch in January where they dropped five out of six games. Nonetheless, Ohio State kick-started a string of six wins in its last seven outings with victories over Wisconsin and Iowa. The Buckeyes enter Thursday's game on a three-game winning streak after triumphs against Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross leads the Buckeyes in scoring at 14.3 points per game. Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. is the second Ohio State player averaging double-figures (11.8 points per game). Among the top point guards in the nation, senior Aaron Craft does a little bit of everything for Ohio State. Craft is averaging 9.5 points, a team-best 4.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and a Big Ten-leading 2.6 steals per game. Craft has started 104-straight games for the Buckeyes. Junior forward Amir Williams is Ohio State's leading rebounder at 6.0 per game. Williams is ranked second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 60 percent.
Ohio State is the Big Ten's top defensive team. The Buckeyes are allowing just 58.1 points per contest on 39.8 percent shooting. Ohio State tops the conference in 3-point defense (27.0 percent for opponents behind the arc). Additionally, the Buckeyes lead the conference in turnover margin at +3.32.
Following the 71-70 overtime victory in Columbus on Jan. 29, the Nittany Lions are seeking their first regular season sweep of the Buckeyes since the 1997-'98 season.
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