Penn State Heads To Champaign Looking For First Big Ten Win
Penn State heads to Champaign Thursday night to take on the Fighting Illini. In Penn State’s last two losses to Iowa and Michigan, the offense has scored 70 points or more, something fans haven’t seen very often this season. In their last outing on Sunday afternoon, the Nittany Lions managed to put up 71 points in Ann Arbor against then-No. 4 Michigan. With five games remaining in the regular season, it seems like Penn State has found a shooting groove.
Recently, Sasa Borovnjak has been on a tear, playing well against a very good Michigan team and a rejuvenated Iowa squad. Borovnjak has scored 31 points in those games. One main thing Penn State has struggled with this season is playing well in the paint, so if Borovnjak stays hot, it will go a long way in their quest for a Big Ten win. As Pat Chambers mentioned, if Borovnjak can sustain his success as a third scoring option, it will take some pressure off of the team’s leading scorers, D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall.
Marshall has continued his successful season, posting double-digits in scoring eight of the last ten games. Newbill had 11 points against Michigan on Sunday, but it was Marshall who led the Nittany Lions with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore Ross Travis was also a big factor at Michigan. Travis played all but 2 minutes in the loss, raking in 10 rebounds and 11 points.
Illinois has been busy getting its season back on track, winning four games in a row, including road wins at then-No.18 Minnesota and Northwestern. In Champaign, they knocked off Purdue and then-No.1 Indiana on a buzzer-beating layup back on February 7. Illinois is surging, but they still remain in the middle of the Big Ten Standings.
The leading scorer for the Fighting Illini, Brandon Paul, is currently ranked forth in the conference in that department at 16.4 points per game. D.J. Richardson has been a great compliment to Paul, averaging 17 points per game over his last eight games. Tyler Griffey, the man who knocked off the Hoosiers, has been hot during the team’s winning streak, posting an average of 12.3 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. Illinois’ defense has come on strong during the win streak as well, keeping opponents below 40 percent from the field and allowing only 56.3 points per game over the past four games.
If Penn State plans to stay in the game Thursday night, they must continue shooting the ball well. Illinois is 14-1 when they shoot at a higher percentage than their opponent.
The last time these two teams met, Penn State knocked off No. 25 Illinois at the Jordan Center 54-52. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:15 ET on the Big Ten Network.
Tyler Ball is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.