Penn St. at Illinois
When: 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 31, 2015
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois
Penn State guard D.J. Newbill is one of the nation’s top scorers, so the Nittany Lions winning on a night where their senior standout scores 12 points is encouraging. Penn State travels to Illinois on Saturday looking for a third consecutive Big Ten victory, while the injury-riddled Fighting Illini hope a week off will re-invigorate a roster missing three key contributors. The Nittany Lions beat Minnesota 63-58 Wednesday, getting a balanced effort as Newbill – the conference’s leading scorer – finished 10 points below his average.
“I was excited about our team stepping up for D.J. when he wasn’t himself,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers told reporters. Illinois has split its six games since leading scorer Rayvonte Rice broke his hand early this month, and with guards Tracy Abrams out for the season and Aaron Cosby recovering from eye surgery, Illinois coach John Groce added manager Ryan Schmidt to the roster. The Fighting Illini lost 79-71 at Minnesota on Jan. 24, their third game in seven days.TV:
1 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network ABOUT PENN STATE (14-7, 2-6 Big Ten):
Newbill’s scoring average dipped to 21.5 after going 4-of-15 from the field Wednesday, but he scored 10 of Penn State’s final 14 points and added 11 rebounds. The Nittany Lions rank next-to-last in the conference in scoring defense (66.9 points per game allowed), but have surrendered 54.5 per contest and held Minnesota 19 points below its average. Penn State’s bench averages 20.7 points per game.ABOUT ILLINOIS (13-8, 3-5):
Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill have raised their offensive game in Rice’s absence, with Nunn averaging 20.3 points in his past four games and Hill scoring 18 points in each of his past two contests. The Fighting Illini lead the Big Ten and are second in the nation in free-throw shooting at 79.6 percent. Nnanna Egwu has blocked 39 shots, second in the conference and 50th nationally.TIP-INS
1. Four of Illinois’ conference losses have come by 10 points or less.
2. Newbill averaged 29 points in his three games prior to facing Minnesota.
3. Penn State F Payton Banks (nine points) and G Devin Foster (eight points) set career highs against the Golden Gophers.PREDICTION:
Penn State 67, Illinois 61
Stats and Records