Surging Penn State will be searching for its eighth consecutive victory when it hosts Northwestern on Saturday.
The No. 13-ranked Nittany Lions (19-5, 9-4 Big Ten) are coming off an impressive 88-76 win at Purdue on Tuesday.
Penn State has lost just once in 13 home games: Jan. 11 against Wisconsin.
With one more Big Ten win, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers will set a record for the most conference victories in one season.
The balanced Nittany Lions placed five players in double figures against Purdue, with Mike Watkins leading the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Seth Lundy added a career-best 18 points.
In the process, Watkins moved into second place in program history in career rebounds, passing Mike Lang, who compiled 912 boards from 1980-83.
“We made shots today, and I thought our defense was pretty good — when we needed stops, we got some stops,” Chambers said after the win over the Boilermakers. “I thought we rebounded the ball as well as we can. I thought our guys were dialed into the game plan, and we made some shots and we kept it together in the second half when things were starting to slip, and that’s the sign of a really good team.”
Penn State has proved to be a good team all season. The new goal for this group is continually winning, especially when the opposition visits. Northwestern is having a down season, but it will certainly be a formidable opponent.
“I think these guys have really learned what they need to do on a nightly basis,” Chambers said. “I think having seniors and leaders and guys that have been there, they understand what they need to do.”
The reeling Wildcats will be looking to snap a maddening eight-game losing streak. Northwestern (6-17, 1-12) is just 1-7 on the road.
In their most recent game on Wednesday night, the Wildcats were defeated handily, 79-54, by Michigan. Jared Jones paced Northwestern with a career-high 12 points, and Miller Kopp added 10, but it wasn’t nearly enough in a 25-point loss.
The Wildcats converted only 5 of 21 shots from beyond the arc and shot 32.2 percent overall. In the end, it was their 13th loss in 14 games in what has become a difficult season.
“I thought we looked a little bit tired, and give them credit,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said. “I thought they were fast to the ball, they were pushing the ball and giving us a hard time in transition. They’ve got guys who’ve won a lot of games. … They’ve gone deep in the NCAA Tournament. Their experience really showed.”
The Wildcats remain last in the conference in scoring, which has been a factor in their struggles all season.
It won’t get any easier against Penn State.
“We have to stay the course, we have to keep fighting,” Collins said. “We have to keep getting better. I keep telling the guys, ‘Keep getting to the door step, and eventually we’re going to break that thing down, and when we do hopefully that will lead to some really good things.'”
–Field Level Media