Penn State picked up in February where it left off in January, shooting just 31 percent from the field in Tuesday's 58-49 loss to Purdue. The Nittany Lions (8-14, 0-10 Big Ten) built an early nine-point lead but let the Boilermakers (12-11, 5-5) back in the game and were undone by a poor start to the second half. Purdue wasn't on fire either, connecting on just 41 percent of its shots from the field, but used its size advantage to put Penn State's bigs in foul trouble and create a huge free-throw disparity.
Newbill had 17 points and seven assists while playing all 40 minutes Tuesday.
Top performers: Sophomore guard D.J. Newbill was the only Nittany Lion to reach double figures, finishing with 17 points (15 in the second half) and seven assists. Ross Travis had eight points and eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions.
Guard Ronnie Johnson led Purdue with 16 points and freshman center A.J. Hammons had 15 -- 11 from the free-throw line -- to go with 12 rebounds and three blocks.
What went right: Penn State brought its defense in the first half, holding the Boilermakers to 24 points and 36 percent shooting. Sasa Borovjnak gave the Nittany Lions some early scoring before succumbing to foul problems and Jon Graham was solid on the glass (six boards in 19 minutes). Penn State took good care of the basketball, committing just eight turnovers, and the Nittany Lions gave themselves plenty of second chances (after once again missing plenty of shots), grabbing 11 offensive rebounds.
What went wrong: Forty-nine points is not going to cut it in Big Ten play, especially if you're the home team and playing against a Purdue defense without its usual teeth. The Nittany Lions' 2-of-20 performance from the arc was discouraging but so was the shot selection that led to those 20 attempts. Penn State could not handle the size of Hammons nor the quickness of Ronnie Johnson, which helped put the Lions in foul trouble and handcuff their offense and defense late in the game. No one stepped up to help Newbill on a rare off night for Jermaine Marshall (2-of-14, 0-of-5, 7 points).
Statworthy: Penn State was 2-of-20 from the 3-point line. Purdue was 0-of-10. … The Nittany Lions led at halftime (25-24) for the first time in 10 Big Ten games. … Penn State lost for the first time this season when holding an opponent to under 60 points. … The Nittany Lions put up a season-high 62 field-goal attempts. … Purdue shot 29 free throws to Penn State's 13. The Nittany Lions committed 24 personal fouls.
Quotable: "We've got to support each other. We talk about foxhole mentality, meaning get your teammates' backs. I'm trying to teach them to stick together through thick and thin." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers
"Our goal is to be the best team we can be by the end of the season. We just keep pushing. Nobody's hanging their head. We're working so hard for a win and we feel like we're going to get one." -- Penn State guard D.J. Newbill
"We didn't want them to get any action off their ball screens, so we switched with that and then hold on their ball screen and make sure he didn't get an angle. Try to contest all shots but not let him get into the paint. We just wanted to stay in front of him." -- Purdue coach Matt Painter, on limiting the Nittany Lions' Jermaine Marshall's offensive opportunities.
Summary: Penn State squandered one of its best remaining chances for a Big Ten home win as well as a strong start to the game. The Nittany Lions' regulars are getting worn down by their conference opponents and freshmen like Donovon Jack and Akosa Maduegbunam have not received many chances to help. Chambers continues to try to keep his players' spirits high while at the same time driving them to improve. That's a tough line to walk when you're in the midst of a double-digit losing streak. The Nittany Lions have three days to prepare for what should be another decent chance at a win when they visit Nebraska this weekend, but they'll have to find some offense they haven't found yet.
Up next: Penn State heads to Lincoln for a 9 p.m. tip with Nebraska on Saturday night.
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