Nittany Lions Downed by Illinois, 77-67
Jan. 27, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; Jan. 27, 2010 - Despite getting a Big Ten leading 10th 20-point plus outing from Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y) and a career high from sophomore Chris Babb (Arlington, Texas) for the second straight game, the Nittany Lion basketball team once again missed timely shots and saw Illinois shoot 52 percent from the floor as the Illini claimed a 77-67 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center Wednesday.
Penn State held a three-point lead midway through the second half and had a chance at a lay-up to go up five, but saw Babb's feed to Battle go off the junior guard out-of-bound and Illinois run off the next seven points to take a four-point lead, 55-51, with 7:59 to play that it would never relinquish. Penn State fell to 0-8 in the Big Ten and 8-12 on the season as its longest losing skid in four seasons extended to eight games. Illinois swept the season series for the first time since 2005 and improved to 5-3 in the Big Ten competition and 13-8 overall.
"As I told the guys after the game, I thought Illinois made timely shots and I thought we missed timely shots when we had to make an open shot or when we had to make a basket and we couldn't get it," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "Credit them. I thought (Mike) Davis made a good jump-hook, (Dominique) Keller made a good turnaround jump-hook and (Demetri) McCamey made one at the shot clock that were really, really daggers. We could never overcome it. We could never get back to where we could get back at them. It's just the way the season has gone, so far."
Battle, the Big Ten's leading scorer, led the Lions with 20 points and added five assists and two steals. Babb added a team-high equaling five rebounds to his 18 points and junior David Jackson (Farrell, Pa.) posted his eighth double-digit outing of the season and second-straight with 13. It marked the first time on the season that the same three Nittany Lions scored in double-digits in consecutive games.
Illinois came out blazing hitting four of its first five from three and shooting 80 percent from the floor over the first seven minutes. They ended the game at 52.1 percent (25-58) from the field and 50 percent (9-18) from three. Freshman D.J. Richardson led Illinois with 20 points and combined with fellow freshman Brandon Paul (10) to post 30 points on a combined 9-12 from the floor. The pair had just six in Illinois' 54-53 win in Champaign earlier this season. Bill Cole had a career-high 12 points for Illinois on 4-of-5 from three and five Illini reached double-figures.
Penn State lost the rebounding battle (35-27) for the first time in Big Ten play and hit just 12-of-22 (54.5%) from the foul line. The Illini outscored the Nittany Lions 29-16 in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Illini took control of the game early, jumping out to a 20-9 lead after a 10-0 run in the first 6:40, shooting 8-10 from the field in that time frame, including 4-5 from three. Cole and Richardson each went 2-of-2 from three-point land in the first six and a half minutes, while Mike Tisdale converted on all three of his field goal attempts early on.
Penn State would cut the lead to seven when Jackson cashed in on two free throws and junior Andrew Jones (Philadelphia, Pa.) slammed one home to make it 20-13. However, the Illini maintained a steady lead of 26-17 with 7:30 remaining in the first half.
With 6:58 remaining in the stanza, Battle began to heat up nailing three consecutive three pointers within a 1:52 time span to cut Illinois' lead to 29-26. The Illini however answered back with an 8-0 run capped by a pair of threes from Paul to give them a 10-point lead, 36-26. Penn State would get back within five on a three from Babb and a jumper from Jones, but the Illini closed the half with a Mike Davis jumper at the buzzer for a 40-33 lead at the break.
Penn State went on a 12-0 run at the start of the second half to recapture the lead, 46-42. Battle got a breakaway layup to start the run, followed by a three-pointer by Babb to make it 42-39. Battle then dished off a pass to Jackson who sunk the layup, making it 42-41 in favor of the Illini. Babb then drained another three to give Penn State its first lead since being up 2-0 to open the game. Jackson hit another lay-up to give the Lions a 46-42 advantage with 15:06 remaining.
The Illini would settle down though, going on a 15-6 run. With the Nittany Lions leading 48-46, Dominique Keller sank a hook shot to tie it up. Babb made the front end of a one-and-one and Jones rebounded his miss on the second, put it back and gave the Lions a 51-48 lead. Babb stole the ball from Richardson and broke down the floor with Battle, but the Lion leader could not handle the bounce pass.
Richardson buried a jumper and Cole hit another three to give the Illini the lead. Davis followed with another jumper on the next possession, giving Illinois a 55-51 lead with 8:35 remaining.
Battle got a steal from Davis and took it to the other end. His lay-up bounced off the rim, but Ott followed to cut the Illini lead to two, 55-53. Penn State would never be any closer the rest of the way.
Illinois ran off six straight to seize a 61-53 lead with 3:20 to play. The Lions missed open looks and free throws the rest of the way as the Illini kept them at a distance to escaped with the win.
The Nittany Lions will hit the road to face ranked opponents in their next two games. The first comes Sunday when Penn State takes on No. 10 Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. The game will tip off at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on the Big Ten Network.