Men’s Basketball Topped at No. 22 Illinois
Junior guard Myreon Jones’ 20-point scoring streak extends to four games
Credit Source: Penn State University Athletics
BOX SCORE: No. 22 Illinois 79, Penn State 65
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Penn State men’s basketball team had double-digit scoring efforts from junior guard Myreon Jones and sophomore forward Seth Lundy, but the Nittany Lions could not overcome several scoring bursts from No. 22 Illinois in a 79-65 loss at the State Farm Center Tuesday night.
Jones led the Nittany Lions (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten) with 20 points on 6-13 shooting, extending his streak of 20-plus point scoring efforts to four-straight games. Lundy chipped in 13 points off the bench with two three-pointers and a 5-5 mark from the free throw line.
“We’re still a work in progress, we’re competing and we’re getting better,” said Penn State interim head coach Jim Ferry. “I keep saying it, I’m not trying to use it as an excuse, but we haven’t played a lot. We’re still trying to figure out who we are as a team and you can’t just do that in practice all the time, so we’re still in that mode. We’re getting better. I know it didn’t look like it tonight, but we are getting better and we will continue to get better.”
Illinois (10-5, 6-3 Big Ten) pieced together several scoring runs throughout the night and received a strong individual performance from Kofi Cockburn, who scored a game-high 21, to hold Penn State at bay.
Jones netted 11 of his team-high 20 points in the final 20 minutes, knocking down 3-5 from the field and was perfect from the foul line. Senior forward John Harrar had a team-best nine rebounds for the Nittany Lions while freshman forward Abdou Tsimbila had a career-best seven boards to go along with four points and two steals.
Illinois built on its lead early in the second half and used a stretch of perfect 6-6 shooting from the field over 3:30 to extend the lead to 22 points. Over the next seven minutes, the Illini failed to score a basket while the Nittany Lions had four-straight two-point baskets, and then another 3-pointer by Jones at the 5:38 mark for a 68-53 score.
The Nittany Lions battled back with a pair of baskets from senior guard Jamari Wheeler and Tsimbila, but the Illini held its double-digit margin throughout the final period.
The 42-28 first-half lead proved to be enough for the Illini to secure the win over the Nittany Lions. A red-hot start for the Illini, shooting 67 percent from the field, propelled the home team to a 13-5 lead through the first four minutes of play.
The Nittany Lions 3-point shooting came alive as they drilled four treys to tie the game at 17-17 at the 12:55 mark. The Illini responded with a 10-0 run to push the lead to 27-17 during a four-minute span. A 6-2 run for the Nittany Lions trimmed deficit to six at 29-23 following a Myles Dread triple and a free throw by Jones.
Another double-digit run by the Illinois gave it a 41-23 lead with 2:20 to play in the opening period. Lundy, fouled on a 3-point attempt, took advantage of his opportunities at the charity stripe, with three-straight made free throws and then another two after drawing a foul after he swiped a bad pass to pull Penn State within 13, 41-28.
Foul trouble put the Nittany Lions at a disadvantage early, putting Illinois in the bonus midway through the first half with Brockington with three and Buttrick, Lundy and Wheeler each with two by halftime. Senior guard Kyle McCloskey played valuable minutes, with a career-best five points and a steal in 10 minutes of action.
The Nittany Lions outrebounded the Illini 40-35 after being down in that category 21-16 at halftime. Penn State forced Illinois into 15 turnovers, the Illini’s highest total in Big Ten play, while the Nittany Lions had 10 steals, their highest total in a Big Ten game this year.