Men’s Basketball Bested by No. 18 Illinois
Credit Source: Penn State University Athletics
Brockington and Jones share Nittany Lion scoring honors with 21 each
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The inside presence of No. 18 Illinois negated the strong shooting performance by Penn State (3-3, 0-2) and propelled the Illini (6-3, 2-1) to a 98-81 win over the Nittany Lions Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Junior guards Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones each scored 21 points on the night, but it wasn’t enough to get past 30 points from leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu and 23 from Illini teammate Kofi Cockburn’s 23.
“The thing that was probably the most frustrating part is that I think we got out-toughed today,” said Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry. “I don’t think we did, we got out-toughed today. I thought we started the game as the aggressor. We started the game beating them on 50-50s, out-rebounding them and out-scrapping them, and then, we lost it. That’s where we got to get more consistent as a team. They have two stars and they both had big nights and that can’t happen, and we allowed it to happen. I thought it was in all the toughness stuff, rebounding the basketball, playing without fouling, (that) really put us in a hole.”
Illinois scored 58 points in the paint and converted 21 second-chance points with potent attack in the second half. Penn State matched Illinois through the 14:26 mark of the second half as junior guard Sam Sessoms tied the game at 54 points with a driving layup. The three different Illini scored to counter with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes for a 62-54 lead.
The Nittany Lions cut the lead to six twice over a five-minute span, but the Illini capitalized on Penn State’s foul trouble as the Nittany Lions put Illinois in the bonus at the 13:38 mark of the second half. The Illini pulled out to and held onto a double-digit lead for the last five minutes of the game, in part due to their 19 made free throws on 24 trips to the line in the second half.
Dosunmu scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half. Cockburn’s 23 points came on on 11-13 shooting after he was 8-8 in the first half.
Penn State roared to an early 19-4 lead and knocked down 10 of its first 15 shots for a 23-12 lead as Jones scored 11 quick points in the first four-and-a-half minutes of action. The Illini responded with a combination of points in the paint and 3-pointers over the next nine minutes to pull within two points of the Nittany Lions at 37-32.
A 3-pointer by Frazier gave the Illini their first lead at 38-37 with 3:52 in the first half, but the two teams would exchanged leads until knotting the score at 43-43 going into the locker room.
The opening 20 minutes saw Penn State shoot 61.3 percent from the field and Illinois at 56.7 percent. The Nittany Lions were hot to start the second half, going 5-8, but cooled to a 47.1 mark for the period. Both teams were above 50 percent for the game and made the same number of field goals with PSU at 53.8 percent (35-65) and Illinois at 55.6 (35-63).
The Nittany Lions travel to Indiana for their next Big Ten game on Wednesday, Dec. 30 with an 8:30 p.m. ET tip time.
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