LIVE! vs. Penn State
Illinois 64, Penn State 59 — Final
CHAMPAIGN — D.J. Richardson had 18 points and hit a pair of key free throws late in Illinois' ugly 64-59 win against Penn State.
The win was the fifth straight for Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten). But facing a team that hadn't won since late December, it didn't come easy.
Jermaine Marshall's three-pointer brought Penn State within 62-59 with 5 seconds left. Richardson then sank a pair of free throws that sealed the win.
Illinois led 29-20 at the end of a brutal first half.
The Illini's Brandon Paul entered the game a point shy of 1,500 in his career. It took him almost 17 minutes to get it. He finished with 16.
Penn State (8-18, 0-14) has lost 14 straight. The Nittany Lions committed 31 fouls and sent the Illini to the line 36 times. They made 23.
Marshall led Penn State with 20 points.
The Associated Press
ILLINOIS 64, PENN ST. 59
PENN ST. (8-18)
Borovnjak 7-10 3-6 17, Travis 2-8 0-0 4, Newbill 4-14 2-5 12, Marshall 6-11 4-4 20, Colella 2-3 0-0 6, Maduegbunam 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 0-2 0-0 0, Montminy 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 0-0 0-1 0, Wisniewski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 9-16 59.
McLaurin 1-3 4-7 6, Egwu 2-3 3-4 7, Richardson 4-11 8-9 18, Bertrand 2-4 1-2 6, Paul 5-13 3-8 16, Abrams 1-4 1-2 3, Henry 2-4 2-2 7, Griffey 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 17-43 23-36 64.
Halftime—Illinois 29-20. 3-Point Goals—Penn St. 8-19 (Marshall 4-8, Colella 2-3, Newbill 2-5, Travis 0-1, Taylor 0-2), Illinois 7-24 (Paul 3-7, Richardson 2-7, Henry 1-3, Bertrand 1-3, Griffey 0-1, Abrams 0-3). Fouled Out—Montminy, Travis. Rebounds—Penn St. 34 (Borovnjak, Travis 6), Illinois 25 (McLaurin 5). Assists—Penn St. 11 (Newbill 5), Illinois 8 (Abrams, Richardson 3). Total Fouls—Penn St. 31, Illinois 21. A—14,356.
Illinois 39, Penn State 35 — 11:35 second half
Groce called a timeout 90 seconds into the second half after Penn State scored five unanswered. He didn’t like the way his team came out. They were called for a moving screen and three Illinois players fumbled a defensive rebound that resulted in a Penn State bucket.
Kent Brown reports that 7,667 fans walked through the turnstiles tonight despite the snowstorm that made travel conditions hazardous.
Brandon Paul is not getting calls anymore when he drives to the bucket.
The second half started very much like the first half for Illinois. Penn State got off to a hot start, opened with a 10-2 run.
We’ll see if Illinois can take over here like it did in the first half.
D.J. Newbill touched every part of Brandon Paul’s upper body with both hands, then complained when he was called for a foul.
That is the very definition of a foul. He was so mad he almost got a technical.
“Newbill never talks to you guys,” Chambers said. “Must have been a bad call.”
Chambers must not have seen the play. Couldn’t have seen it.
The football team was announced and they got a very half-hearted applause from the folks here. Most of the team is already gone.
Brandon Paul’s last field goal was reviewed during the under-12 timeout. It was ruled a two-pointer and will remain a two.
Illinois 29, Penn State 20 — Halftime
Illinois’ coaches found something with the Penn State defense in regards to Tyler Griffey that they’re going to make an adjustment on.
Brandon Paul’s hustle play where he dove on the floor for a steal and got it to D.J. Richardson for an and-1 fot the crowd on its feet.
Sam McLaurin’s alley-oop off an inbounds pass from Abrams would certainly have made “SportsCenter” tonight if Myke Henry wouldn’t have been called for a moving screen.
The bench didn’t like the call at all.
John Groce and official Brian Dorsey had a friendly conversation coming out of a timeout about something. It had something to do with offensive fouls.
“Keep going to that damn glass,” an Illinois coach said to his guys.
Joseph Bertrand hit his first three-pointer since the Jan. 2 game at Purdue. He had missed 10 straight.
With a chance to get to 1,5000 points, Brandon Paul missed a pair of free throws.
Illinois got into the double bonus at the 5:19 mark.
He finally got to 1,500 with about 3 minutes left, drilling a three from the corner. Then he took a charge.
Women’s coach Matt Bollant is sitting down on press row with one of his daughters.
Jamall Walker nearly fell out of his chair on the Illinois bench. “I was due for one of those this year,” he said. I’ve seen it happen to Dustin Ford at least once.
Sam McLaurin has been impressive, too. He went high to snag a pass early in the half and Groce said “Kid’s got unbelievable hands. Jerry Rice couldn’t have caught that.”
Then he made a nice read on a pass to Nnanna Egwu: “What a play by Sam, damn!”
Illinois shot 8 for 22 (36.4 percent) and 4 for 12 (33.3) from three.
Penn State was 8 for 18 (44.4 percent) and 1 for 5 (20.0) from three.
Richardson led the Illini with 11 points and Sam McLaurin had six.
Newbill had eight for Penn State.
Penn State turned it over 10 times. Illinois gave it away seven times.
Penn State 11, Illinois 5 — 11:47 first half
Penn State screened the screener on the first possession. Groce asked his staff if that’s the first time they’ve seen the Lions do that this season. I think the answer was yes.
“Great stop, great stop,” Groce said after Penn State’s first offensive possession ended with a contested three. He then got in a defensive stance. His pants survived the ordeal.
Patrick Chambers is coaching on both knees at times on the Penn State bench.
Sasa Borovnjak scored Penn State’s first six points.
Illinois passed the ball around the perimeter three times on one possession to get a good look. Jamall Walker said: “Good pass, good pass, good pass” but the three-pointer didn’t fall.
D.J. Richardson has hit a three in 34 straight games.
Brandon Paul is still one point shy of 1,500 for his career. He’s missed his first three shots today, including an airball from NBA range. I thought he got fouled going to the basket. So did Groce.
D.J. Newbill looks really uncomfortable shooting free throws. He graved the rim on the first one and his second attempt was equally shaky.
Bad start for the Illini. They’ve turned it over four times and they’re 2 for 9 from the floor (22.2 percent). Penn State's zone is giving them some trouble.
D.J. Richardson has all five points.
Penn State (8-17, 0-13) at Illinois (19-8, 6-7) — Tipoff (BTN)
It looks like the entire Illinois football team is courtside tonight wearing their jerseys. The football team was at the women’s game Monday night against Wisconsin. I believe most of them left at halftime.
They’re sitting behind the Orange Krush on the east side.
There might be 6,000 people here right now. Illinois will have to create its own energy tonight.
Tim Frazier is wearing a suit on the Penn State bench. He’s become kind of like a coach for Patrick Chambers.
We had Penn State play-by-play voice Steve Jones on the pregame show with us. He said Chambers has been unbelievable this year, keeping these guys motivated despite all the losing. Chambers is a lot like John Groce, he’s just naturally a positive guy.
Jones likes the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big ten, from a Penn State perspective. It’s easy travel for the Nittany Lions.
Travis, Newbill, Marshall, Broovnjak and Colella will start for Penn State.
Michael Finke and is family are courtside near the Illinois bench. That will be all of the recruits here tonight.
Penn State (8-17, 0-13) at Illinois (19-8, 6-7) — 30 minutes before tipoff (BTN)
Joe Lunardi has Illinois as a 10 seed in his latest bracket released Tuesday. Lunardi as Illinois playing North Carolina State in Philadelphia with Syracuse and Niagra the potential matchup in the next round.
A 10 seed seems low to me at this point, but I gues it doesn’t really matter at this point.
Jerry Palm at CBS has the Illini as a 6 playing Charlotte in Philly with Syracuse and Bucknell as the next matchup.
Groce and Charlotte coach Alan Major worked together at Xavier and Ohio State.
The doors are open here at the Assembly Hall and to the surprise of no one, the crowd is filing in very slowly.
I expect more than the 3,000 that came for these two teams here a couple years ago, however.
Someone in the Penn State cheering section is trying his darndest to get the attention of D.J. Newbill. “HEY, D.J.! HEY, D.J.!” He’s clear on the other side of the arena, not a chance that Newbill is hearing him.
Penn State’s Ross Travis has “FTK” shaved into the left side of his head. “FTK” stands for “For the Kids”. It’s an homage to Penn State’s Thon event that raises money for pediatric cancer.
Illinois director of basketball operations Mark Morris went to the Eastern Illinois-Belmont game the other night. Belmont won by 31. The Bruins will win the OVC. Morris went to Murray State. He’s upset my Panthers beat his Racers on Saturday.
Illinois football players are in the crowd tonight wearing their jerseys. Loks like some of them are directing fans to their seats.
Penn State (8-17, 0-13) at Illinois (19-8, 6-7) — 60 minutes before tipoff (BTN)
Illinois will go with the same starters it had Sunday at Northwestern. Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Joseph Bertrand, Sam McLaurin and Nnanna Egwu will be the five. Tracy Abrams will come off the bench again. Tracy’s been really good lately.
Tim Frazier was one of the first Penn State players on the floor. He came out in blue sweat pants and a gray t-shirt and had a seat on the bench at the north end watching his team warm up.
Frazier, who’s a dead ringer for my guy Curtis Granderson, and Illinois’ D.J. Richardson greeted one another on the floor a little bit ago. They’re tight.
Penn State might be pretty good next year with Frazier back to join D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall.
Woke up to the news this morning that the Big Ten tournament being held this year at the United Center in Chicago is sold out. I know a lot of folks loved having it in Indiana, and I liked it there, too, but Chicago really comes out and supports big-time sporting events.
It helps that the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball this season.
If you’re still looking for tickets, third-party sites like StubHub.com might be your best bet.
The Illinois coaches spent the early part of the week out recruiting. John Groce and Jamall Walker went to Memphis to check out Leron Black, a 2014 forward.
There as some buzz on Twitter about Black, supposedly tweeting about Illinois. Black doesn’t have a Twitter account.
Dustin Ford was in Cleveland to check out 2015 forward Carlton Bragg. Bragg is a big priority for the Illini in that class. He’d be a big get.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Indiana’s Victor Oladipo all season, but he’s really vaulted into the national consciousness after Tuesday’s game against Michigan State. Oladipo was second in the latest ESPN straw poll for the National Player of the Year. Michigan’s Trey Burke is still on top. Creighton’s Doug McDermott is third.
A guy to watch out for is Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk. He’s not getting the attention he should. Gonzaga basically won the Big 12 this year at Olynyk was dominant. He should be a first-team All-American.
There are boxes of new Orange Krush goodies down here on the floor. Looks like new foam fingers.
Penn State (8-17, 0-13) at Illinois (19-8, 6-7) — 90 minutes before tipoff (BTN)
Good evening and thanks for coming by for another Illinois basketball Live Report.
I’m guessing most of you will opt to stay home tonight. The weather out there is getting nasty. It’s like 50 percent rain, 50 percent snow and 100 percent crappy.
Penn State played here a couple of years ago in similar weather conditions. The actual attendance was something like 3,000. They let everyone come down to the closer seats once the game got going.
If you are coming out tonight, please be careful. It’s really getting bad out there.
Tyler Griffey made it out here first again. He’s taking shots at the south end.
The Illini will wear orange uniforms tonight. The last time they wore orange as the first Northwestern game. That wone didn’t go so well.
Tonight is another one of those games Illinois should win before another huge test Sunday at No. 7 Michigan, which won handily here last month.
Penn State is looking to avoid being the first team to go winless in Big Ten play since Northwestern (0-16) did it 13 years ago.
Certainly, the Nittany Lions would have a win or two if not for All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier rupturing his Achilles’ tendon four games into the season.
“Obviously they’ve been through a lot of adversity and I respect the energy and passion that Coach (Pat) Chambers has. It’s very evident his team takes on the personality. They compete, they play very hard,” Illinois coach John Groce said.
Who’d have thought the Illini would have a chance to get back to .500 in conference play after starting 2-7 and losing games to Purdue and Northwestern?
It’s been a remarkable turnaround and all inside the program credit the defense.
“Guys have bought into the system more defensively, they’re where they’re supposed to be more; I think their concentration is better,” Groce said. “Things that were knowledge before are becoming habits. We’re seeing more carryover from practices to games.”
Women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant is here courtside right now talking with Steve Kelly on Sportstalk.
Bollant says there were about 4,500 Penn State fans there last night at the game and they were loud. The women were only 17 buckets away from beating the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions.
I’m jumping on with Steve and Loren Tate for the pregame show.
I’ll be back with another update.