Penn State tops No. 22 Illinois, 54-52
Jan. 19, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.; JAN. 19, 2012 - Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas) buried a 12-foot jumper with eight seconds to play and Jermaine Marshall (Etters, Pa.) blocked a last second shot attempt as Penn State (10-10; 2-5 Big Ten) dropped a ranked Illinois (15-4; 4-2 Big Ten) team, 54-52, for the third straight time in the Bryce Jordan Center and gave coach Patrick Chambers his first career win over a ranked opponent.
"He has earned the right to make those and take those shots," Chambers said of Frazier. "He's done a great job with leadership. He's been just incredible - his effort in his play throughout the whole season."
Wearing gray third-color uniforms for the first time in program history and fueled by a gray-clad and boisterous student section that turned out in the thousands on a cold and snow night, Penn State won for the fifth time in the last six meetings against a ranked Illinois team in the only regular season game between the schools this season.
"Awesome," Chambers said when asked about the crows. "I just said that to my staff, and my brothers, who are in the back. Even though it snowed, that bottom part of the bowl was filled. It gets loud in here, and what a great game for us to win to make them want to come back again. Now, they are going to enjoy Penn State basketball. It's exciting. The future is bright."
The No. 22-ranked Illini, who entered the game tied atop the Big Ten rankings after downing No. 5 Ohio State in their last game, were held to 34 percent shooting and went just 7-of-22 from three against an active and aggressive Penn State defense that held its seventh opponent on the year to 55 points or less. Senior Cammeron Woodyard (Westminster, Md.) delivered his second-straight team-leading scoring performance notching 17 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three and a timely jumper late. Frazier added 12 points and nine assists, the seventh game on the year with nine assists or more for the Big Ten's assist leader.
The game marked the sixth in the last eight meetings between the teams decided by two points or less and the seventh played between the two in the BJC decided by three points or less.
"They see now that they could be a good team," Chambers said. "They can believe and have faith in what Penn State basketball is all about: it's defending, rebounding and competing for 40 minutes. If they do that, we are going to be in the game, in a possession game."
Brandon Paul led Illinois with 20 points on 4-of-9 from three. Meyers Leonard added 15 points, but the 7-1 forward was held to four rebounds, nearly four below his average coming into the game.
Leading 25-23 after a first half in which both teams struggled shooting, Penn State came out strong using a 6-0 run led by Matt Glover to open a 31-23 lead. Glover scored four points in the opening minutes of the half and finished with seven points and a team-high tying seven boards. The Nittany Lions held Illinois scoreless for 7 1/2 minutes spanning both halves until a layup by Leonard at 16:19 brought the Illini within five points.
The Lions would hold the lead for 19 minutes of the second half, fighting back four Illini comeback attempts that got the lead to one on three occasions and saw the Illini tie the game with 40 seconds to play but never move ahead.
Penn State pushed its lead to nine, 35-26, following a Frazier steal and feed to Sasa Borovnjak (Belgrade, Serbia) for a lay-up with 14:37 to play.
Illinois used a 10-2 run midway through the half to cut the lead to 37-36 after a Tyler Griffey three with 10:23 to play. Penn State responded, feeding Borovnjak on the post and seeing the 6-9 forward pump fake Leonard and finish at the rim.
Four straight points from Marshall pushed the Penn State lead to five, 43-38, but when Paul hit the first of three second half threes the Illini were back within one, 43-42, with 7:12 to play.
Frazier drew a foul and hit two at the line and Woodyard buried a three to put the Lions back up six. Leonard converted a lay-up and Paul hit another three and the lead was back to one, 48-47, with 5:34 to go.
Frazier hit a cutting Woodyard for a 15-foot jumper and the Lions forced Leonard into a turnover on the other end. Woodyard drew a foul from Paul and hit two at the line for a 52-47 lead with 2:16 to play.
The Illini got a lay-up from Joseph Bertrand and another three from Paul and tied the game at 52 with 40 seconds to play.
Penn State called a pair of timeouts to set up a high ball screen for Frazier. Frazier went to his right, used the screen and pulled up from 12-feet to bury a floater that caught nothing but net.
After a timeout, Illinois inbounded to Sam Maniscalco who drove to the basket but had his shot turned back by Marshall, one of a career-best three blocks in the game for the sophomore.
Both teams got off to sluggish offensive starts. Trailing by eight points nine minutes into the game, the Lions got a steal from Marshall that led to a Woodyard dunk and three-pointer from Woodyard to bring Penn State within two, 17-15, with 8:24 left in the half.
The Illini pushed their lead back to four points, but Penn State ran of five straight and used a Marshall three to take their first lead, 20-19, with 7:01 to play in the half.
Leonard finished from close to put the Illini back up one, but redshirt freshman Jon Graham (Baltimore, Md.), who had a career-high seven rebounds, hit one at the line to tie the game. Frazier finished the half with a jumper for a two-point edge at the half.
Penn State will hit the road for its next two games starting Sunday with a noon tip against Indiana Sunday in Bloomington, Ind. That game can be seen live on the Big Ten Network.
Nittany Lion Basketball single-game tickets or group tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-NITTANY, visiting GoPSUsports.com or through Ticketmaster. Single-game tickets are $18 for the lower bowl and $15 for upper level tickets for adults. Youth tickets (18 and under) are $7 for the lower bowl and $5 for upper level seating, while Penn State student tickets (University Park or branch campus) are $5. Penn State also offers special basketball group ticket rates for groups of 15 fans or more. Nittany Lion group rates are $10 for adults and $5 for youth.
For all the latest information, notes, pictures and related links on Penn State basketball follow Associate Athletic Communications Director Brian Siegrist on Twitter (@PSUSTRETCH) and check GoPSUsports.com. The Nittany Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstatebasketball.