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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is back in a bit of a familiar place, preparing to return home from a bitter road loss to regroup. Although pleased with the progress and the high points along the way, it's clear to Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers that it's once again, time to respond.
"It's a new day, we've got to get better today," Chambers said. "We were a little out of sync and that's okay. We'll watch film, we'll come back to work, get in practice with those different lineups that we now have and try to get those lineups better."
On the heels of its third Big Ten loss by six points or less, Chambers hasn't lost sight of the path, opting to take small steps forward instead of casting focus too far ahead.
"I always feel like we're right there and then we always get a little shot of adversity and then you've got to punch right back, you've got to come back and handle it, make your tweaks and adjustments," Chambers said. "We are thisclose to being able to handle the next obstacle, the next adversity and getting on a run. I really believe that."
Since resuming conference play, the Nittany Lions bounced back from a road loss at Maryland with a defining 78-63 win against Northwestern last weekend in front of an energized crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Looking to build off the momentum, the Nittany Lions entered a notoriously hostile environment on the road Tuesday night at Indiana, falling short in a comeback attempt.
"Our offense did not look anything like it did on Friday," Chambers said reflecting on the loss to the Hoosiers. "We need to play more consistent on the road and if we can bottle up that energy and that effort that we played with last Friday night, we'll find success."
Road-woes aside, for Chambers it all comes back to a familiar phrase - mental conditioning. It's all encompassing too, from desire and energy to discipline and focus, it's something that Chambers has yet to consistently see from the Nittany Lions.
"It's fighting through when you're tired, it's fighting through when you're not shooting well, it's fighting through when the team's going on a run," Chambers said. "It's fighting through, handling obstacles and adversity and sticking together, especially on the road when their fans are going crazy. That's when you've got to fight and stick together the most."
There's still nearly 10 days before Penn State heads back on the road, providing back-to-back opportunities for the Nittany Lions to get back on track in front of a growing home crowd. With students returning to their usual spots in the stands led by the Legion of Blue, there's plenty to look forward to.
"The Legion of Blue has been awesome," Chambers said. "I've actually gotten to know them really well and that's been a great relationship for me. When they get here and when the students come it's awesome and we have a great atmosphere."
In Penn State's last Bryce Jordan Center outing, the Nittany Lions were confident in the win against the Wildcats, powered by a career-high 30-point outing from sophomore Lamar Stevens. With at least 20 points in the last two games, consistency from Stevens is key for the Nittany Lions.
"When he's fresh, he's in stances, he's doing a good job," Chambers said. "I'd like to see him rebound a little bit more but just the mental conditioning. It's that aspect of the game when he's hitting that 34-35-minute mark, he's got to really punch through for us."
The Nittany Lions host Nebraska Friday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. At 12-6 on the year, the Huskers are 3-2 in the Big Ten coming off of a 63-59 win against Wisconsin on Tuesday.