Penn State captures first Big Ten win in convincing fashion over Rutgers
January 3rd in Piscataway was a night that D.J. Newbill would like to forget. The Big Ten’s leading scorer shot just 4-17 from the floor in a disappointing 50-46 loss to Rutgers.
Saturday afternoon, the senior avenged that performance, notching his 11th 20-point game of the season and Penn State (13-7, 1-6 B1G) routed the Scarlet Knights (10-11, 2-6 B1G) 79-51 in front of 8,281 at the Bryce Jordan Center for their first conference win of the season.
The Nittany Lions missed their first four shots and Rutgers jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead.
Brandon Taylor knocked down a three from the corner to open the scoring for Penn State, and Donovon Jack followed with a three of his own on the next position.
Penn State started 4-6 from deep, but it took nearly ten minutes for the Nittany Lions to record a two-point attempt.
A Geno Thorpe steal leading to a Shep Garner breakaway gave the Nittany Lions their first lead at 16-15. Penn State would never relinquish that lead, and thanks to eight Rutgers’ first half turnovers, took a 13-point advantage into halftime.
Despite the well-documented struggles as of late shooting, the Nittany Lions continued to fire from outside, something Pat Chambers has constantly stressed.
“That’s the only way we’re going to be successful,” said Chambers. “I want guys who want to put themselves out there, want to take big shots, make big shots.”
It didn’t take long for Penn State to put the game out of reach. Brandon Taylor quickly drained a three to start the second half, Garner followed with a three-pointer. Newbill, who led all scorers with 23, converted a conventional three-point play and the Nittany Lions found themselves with a 50-28 lead in the first two minutes.
“It was definitely a good feeling,” said Newbill. “To put together a 40 minute game, we played together, we played smart, we played physical. We played Penn State basketball for 40 minutes.”
Since conference play began, Penn State has struggled to find a consistent second and third scoring option after Newbill. Although he was forced to leave the game early with an apparent right knee injury, Taylor had arguably his best game of the season with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Garner chipped in 13 points and four assists, while knocking down three of four attempts from beyond the arc.
As a team, the Nittany Lions were 5-27 from deep in the first meeting against Rutgers. This time around, Penn State shot 10-20 from distance and put together their best overall performance since beating George Washington back on December 14th.
For the second straight game, JUCO transfer Devin Foster (four points, two rebounds) supplied valuable minutes off the bench in place of John Johnson.
“Devin is man,” said Chambers. “He did it against Michigan State, then you have to bounce right back and do it again. And I thought it was important that he did to it again.”
Penn State returns to the hardwood on Wednesday, when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the BJC. ComRadio’s coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with The Penn State Basketball Pregame Show.
Matt Lawrence is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.