Penn State’s scorers can’t keep up with Illinois
Illinois’ Austin Colbert. left, and Jon Ekey battle for the ball with Penn State’s Ross Travis, center, during Saturday’s game.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois’ 75-55 win over Penn State Saturday featured the Big Ten’s two leading scorers, but Penn State’s D.J. Newbill did not keep his end of the bargain.
Rayvonte Rice, leading the conference at 19 points a game entering the contest, scored 15 on just seven shots to lead four Illinois players in double figures in front of 15,390 at State Farm Center.
Newbill, the only Big Ten player other than Rice to score 12 or more in every game, saw that streak end when he was ejected with 8:38 to play after a retaliatory push to the back of Illinois freshman Kendrick Nunn’s head.
“I didn’t see it live,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “I thought he got bumped, but I don’t even know what he did. I’ll have to watch it on film on the way home.
“But D.J. has to keep his composure. We need him out there. Without him, you see the way we played.”
Illinois closed on a 23-12 run after Newbill’s technical.
Illinois coach John Groce also refrained from comment on the skirmish other than to say he didn’t see it live or on replay.
Newbill, three points behind Rice for the Big Ten scoring lead coming in, scored just seven on 2 of 8 shooting.
Tim Frazier (17.7 ppg), who combines with Newbill to form the nation’s top-scoring backcourt, did not fare much better. The 2011-12 all-Big Ten selection missed 8 of 11 shots and scored 10. Frazier had one assist, more than six below his Big Ten-leading average, and one of just three assists on the day for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State shot 29.8 percent for the game (17 of 57) in scoring almost 25 points below its season average.
“I thought our defensive disposition was really strong for 40 minutes,” Groce said. “I thought we were really tough, really together.
“We were consistent with our rebounding effort as well. I thought our offense got going in the second half.”
Illinois, last in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding through 14 games, outrebounded PSU 44-33 and grabbed 31 of 42 missed Nittany Lions shots. Every Illinois starter had between six and eight boards.
Illinois (13-2, 2-0) remained in a first-place tie in the Big Ten following a pair of home wins. Penn State (9-6, 0-2) has dropped five of eight after a 6-1 start.
West Virginia 74, TCU 69: Eron Harris was sick all week and wasn’t sure he would be ready for the Big 12 opener against TCU.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins never doubted the status of the league’s leading scorer.
Harris scored 22 points, Juwan Staten added 15 and the Mountaineers beat TCU 74-69 to improve to 3-0 against the Horned Frogs since both schools joined the league last season.
“He was going to play,” Huggins said of Harris, who was 4 of 5 from 3-point range and hit one from long range that helped West Virginia (9-5) stay in front the entire second half even though TCU stayed close. “It’s not anything major. It’s just uncomfortable.”
If Harris was uncomfortable coming off the bench for the first time this season because of the illness, it didn’t show. Although he committed a turnover soon after entering the game, he hit his first 3 a couple of minutes later and finished the first half with 13 points.
“At the end of the day, I was going to try to play regardless,” Harris said.