Nittany Lions Fall at #24 Illinois, 68-51
Feb. 1, 2011
Champaign, Ill., Feb. 1, 2011 - Penn State (12-9; 5-5 Big Ten) suffered two big blows Tuesday on snowy night in Champaign, Ill. as senior forward Jeff Brooks left the game with a dislocated right shoulder with 1:39 to play in the first half and No. 24 Illinois (15-7; 5-4 Big Ten) handed the Lions their worst Big Ten loss of the season, 68-51.
Brooks will undergo and MRI when Penn State returns to State College to gauge the extent of the injury and set a timetable for his return to action. The Nittany Lions stayed the night in Champaign Tuesday as a massive winter storm slamming the Midwest made travel nearly impossible and threatened to dump and additional 6-8 inches of snow on Champaign overnight.
With ice falling outside Assembly Hall on a freezing night that thinned a sparse crowd of 3,470 inside, Penn State was equally cold hitting just 2-of-17 from three and shooting 33 percent from the floor. Tim Frazier posted a season-high 12 points and added seven boards to join Talor Battle with 12 points to lead the Lions. Penn State got just seven points and two boards out of Brooks, the team's second leading scorer, who dislocated his shoulder in a rebounding scramble and played just 18 minutes on the night.
Penn State rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to get within five in the closing minutes of the first half and trailed by just six, 34-28, when Brooks left the game.
Trailing 36-28 at the half, the short-handed Lions hung close with the Illini for eight minutes of the second half but couldn't muster the fire power to stay within striking distance as the Illini posted the 17-point victory behind 22 points from Mike Davis. The Illini snapped a streak of six-straight games for the Lions winning the rebounding battle by dominating the glass, 38-28. Andrew Jones did grab seven boards on the night to move into 13th all-time on Penn State's all-time career rebounding list with 622.
Penn State got four-straight points on a lay-up by Frazier and a David Jackson jumper to get within six, 38-32, with 16:18 to play and were within six again when Battle drained a pair of free throws with 14:58 left.
Illinois got a lay-up from Bill Cole, but the Lions answered with a jumper from Jones and were within six again, 42-36, with 13:31 left. Cole hit a baseline three to push the Illini lead back to nine, but the Lions came back with a steal by Battle who fed Frazier for an and-one lay-up as he finished a wrap-around scoop shot while being fouled by Demetri McCamey. Frazier's free throw had the Lions within six again, 45-39, with 12:09 to play.
Penn State would not threaten again as it couldn't match the Illini's scoring and Illinois mounted a 7-0 run with all the points coming from Davis to take a 52-39 lead with 9:23 to play. Penn State would not get the margin under 10 again as the Lions continued to miss threes and Illinois pushed its lead to as much as 18 with 1:21 to play.
Penn State went to the half down 36-28 after falling behind by double-digits in the first half for the third-straight game. The Illini came out scorching hitting their first four shots from the floor and finished the half at 52 percent. Penn State struggled the whole half hitting just 33 percent and getting beat on the boards 20-10. Worse Brooks left the floor in the closing minutes with the injury.
Penn State went to its bench early with Drew Jones picking up two fouls and got mixed results. Billy Oliver contributed five first half points, but also a few wayward shots. The Illini got easy dunks off screen and roll action and scorched the Lions' zone attempts from the arc.
Penn State hung in early despite the blistering start and trailed just 17-14 after a pair of free throws from Brooks. The Illini then went on a 12-0 run to open up a 15-point lead, 29-14, as the Lions substitutions struggled defensively.
A Brandon Paul three began the spurt. Bill Cole followed with a three of his own and Mike Tisdale and Richmond got a dunk and lay-up respectively.
A Frazier lay-up broke the run. Battle hit a three, Brooks converted a three-point play and Oliver drove for a lay-up as Penn State used an 8-0 run to get within seven, 31-24.
A Davis dunk pushed the margin back to nine, but Penn State scored four straight with free throws from Jackson and a lay-up from Battle to trail 33-28 with 2:21 left in the first half.
Penn State will return to the Bryce Jordan Center on "Super Bowl Sunday" for a noon tip against Michigan. Several returning Nittany Lion football standouts will be on the concourse to sign autographs prior to the game. Penn State fell 76-69 at Michigan earlier this year. The Nittany Lions will look to extend a four-game home court win streak vs. Big Ten teams, the program's longest since 1996.
Nittany Lion Basketball single-game tickets can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 814-865-5555, visiting GoPSUsports.com or through Tickemaster. Single-game tickets are $18 for the lower bowl and $15 for upper level ticket 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 for each of the 19 home contests.
For all the latest information, notes, pictures and related links on Penn State basketball follow Assistant Athletic Communications Director Brian Siegrist on Twitter (@PSUSTRETCH) and check GoPSUsports.com. The Nittany Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstatebasketball.