After a memorable start that included a top 10 ranking, Penn State has lost two straight games following an eight-game winning streak.
The No. 16 Nittany Lions (20-7, 10-6 Big Ten) hope to get off the 20-win mark in Wednesday’s home game against Rutgers. Penn State’s offense was the main problem in Sunday’s 68-60 defeat at Indiana.
With Myreon Jones missing his fifth straight game due to illness, the Nittany Lions struggled scoring points for most of the game. The Nittany Lions dropped seven spots in the most recent AP rankings after consecutive losses to Illinois and Indiana. Jones, a sophomore guard, is second on the team in scoring at 14.1 points in 22 games this season. His status for Wednesday’s game is unclear, with the Nittany Lions averaging just 58 points in their last two games.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers singled out the play of Lamar Stevens in the Indiana loss. Stevens scored nearly half of the Nittany Lions’ points, finishing with a game-high 29 points to move into second place on Penn State’s career scoring list with 2,145 points.
“Lamar Stevens was great today, but he needs help,” Chambers said. “We can’t play that way. When we are successful, we’re sharing the basketball, and multiple guys get double figures. If we’re relying on one guy … and, did he put us on his back, and he was in foul trouble.”
Chambers said the Nittany Lions showed some fortitude by erasing a 13-point halftime deficit to seize a 48-42 lead before Indiana closed out the game with a run.
“We came out of halftime and really punched back,” Chambers said. “And that is everything, that’s everything you want to see. The character of your team, you want to see them punching back … and we did that. … Things weren’t going our way, but we competed until the end.”
Rutgers (18-10, 9-8) is aiming to move up the conference standings, with seven teams ahead of them in the race. The Scarlet Knights have also hit a lull, dropping their last two games to drop into eighth place. With a 1-7 record in away games, Rutgers closes out the regular season with two of its last three games on the road.
Ron Harper Jr. scored a game-high 21 points and Geo Baker topped the 1,000-point mark in Sunday’s 79-71 defeat at Wisconsin.
“I knew it would be tough to come in here,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said. “But I’m proud of my guys, we work, we continue to grind. Wisconsin made free throws down the stretch. They made 3s. Those were two huge keys for us, and they got us.
“These are all tough venues. Not a lot of people come into Wisconsin and have success. We’ll have a chance if we keep playing hard and fighting through the obstacles this league brings, especially on the road.”
–Field Level Media