GAME NOTES: A Big Ten Conference bout is on tap for early Sunday afternoon, as the Penn State Nittany Lions challenge the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena.
Penn State closed out its non-conference schedule in fantastic fashion with four consecutive wins, but it has not fared nearly as well since the start of Big Ten play as it has dropped each of its first three conference games. The Nittany Lions hosted Northwestern on Thursday and put forth a lackluster effort in a 70-54 loss, dropping the team to 8-7 overall.
Purdue was able to surge above .500 with a three-game win streak a few weeks back, which culminated in an outstanding 68-61 win over nationally-ranked Illinois on Jan. 2. Since then however, the Boilermakers have slipped to 7-8 following losses to ranked rivals Michigan State (84-61) and Ohio State (74-64).
Purdue leads the all-time series with Penn State, 27-11, which includes a 16-2 mark in West Lafayette.
The Nittany Lions got out to an early lead in their latest game, but they were ultimately no match for Northwestern as they got outshot from the field, .458 to .316. D.J. Newbill was off the mark for much of the night (6-of-19), but he made up for it by going 8-of-9 from the foul line on his way to 20 points. Jermaine Marshall added 13 points in the defeat. The poor offensive effort was nothing new for Penn State, which shoots a league-low 39.8 percent from the field in putting up just 66.3 ppg. With Tim Frazier (16.3 ppg) out for the year with an Achilles injury, Newbill has stepped in as the team's top scoring threat, pouring in 15.3 ppg (albeit on just 40 percent field goal efficiency). The sophomore also chips in with 6.1 rpg and a team-high 3.8 apg. Marshall has been a solid second option with 14.5 ppg, and he paces the club in 3-pointers (26). No other PSU player averages double figures, but Ross Travis (7.4 ppg) grabs 7.6 rpg.
Trailing Ohio State by double-digits for much of the game, Purdue managed to cut its deficit to just four with under three minutes to play, but it could not complete the comeback. The team shot less than 39 percent from the field, and although Terone Johnson tallied a game-high 18 points, he was part of the reason for its struggles as he shot just 8-of-21 from the floor. A.J. Hammons tacked on 13 points and eight rebounds, while Ronnie Johnson finished with 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds. The Boilermakers boast a stronger offensive attack than PSU, but not by much, as their .415 field goal percentage and 66.6 ppg both rank near the bottom of the conference as well. Terone Johnson shoots a uninspiring 38.6 percent from the floor, but he still acts as the team's primary scoring option, netting 13.7 ppg. Hammons brings stability to the frontcourt with 10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 1.5 bpg. Despite its deficiencies at the offensive end, Purdue is able to stay competitive thanks to an impressive rebounding margin of plus-6.5.
Neither team has been playing all that well of late, but at least Purdue has shown promise on its home floor (6-3). Continuing its success at Mackey Arena shouldn't be much of a problem against a struggling pack of Nittany Lions.
Game Date and Time