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Zips crush Lions in Puerto Rico

Tim Frazier missed most of Penn State's loss to Akron with a lower leg injury.

Penn State got off to a hot start Sunday in the fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off but lost its top player to injury and had few defensive answers in the second half for Akron, which handed the Nittany Lions an 85-60 loss. Penn State fell to 2-2 on the season and will return home with plenty of questions to answer this week.

Top performers: With Tim Frazier out with an injury, sophomore guard D.J. Newbill had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting and adding six rebounds and five assists while running the point for most of the day. Ross Travis had 11 points -- nine of them at the free-throw line -- and 10 rebounds and freshman Brandon Taylor had 10 points off the bench for Penn State.

Seven-footer Zeke Marshall had 17 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for the Zips (3-2), who got 11 points from Jake Kretzer and 10 from Carmelo Betancourt.

What went right: Penn State had better offensive rhythm and made some open shots early on, leading for much of the first half. Newbill played more within himself than he has in the early part of the season, Marshall hit some open shots and, at least for a time, the Nittany Lions played well in the absence of Frazier. Taylor got plenty of minutes and did some good things at both ends.

What went wrong: Penn State, without its top ball-handler, could not handle Akron's pressure, which broke down the offense in the second half and gave the Zips opportunities to score in transition. The Zips were hot in the second half but the Nittany Lions gave them too many open shots. The Nittany Lions continue to get too little production from big men Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak.

Summary: Penn State had a chance to go 2-1 for the weekend and wash some of the taste of Thursday's and Friday's games away but really missed its best player and continues to struggle to find ways to score. Defensively, the Nittany Lions looked overmatched by a MAC team and did not play with energy or purpose in the second half.

Up next: Penn State will take on Bucknell (4-0) at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Bryce Jordan Center.

  • Some quotes from Patrick Chambers, courtesy of Penn State sports information:

    “I felt like we played a great first 20 minutes, but when you lose a player of the caliber of a Tim Frazier and he’s your point-guard as well, its very difficult. He’s a high production player, and we just couldn’t sustain it in the second half.”

    “We tried to keep it together. We work on it in practice all the time (playing without Frazier), just not for that long of a period, but we just weren’t able to do it. We have to pick up the pieces and continue to get better. We have to figure out how we are going to play and compete with thegroup we have for as long as we may not have Tim.”

    “I thought Zeke Marshall played a tremendous game and obviously really impacted our ability to score around the basket with his great shot blocking ability. He’s the son of a great Penn State alum in Jon Marshall and I was happy for him.”

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