Nittany Lions Hang Tough, Triumph Over the Illini

Geoffrey AmesContributor IFebruary 19, 2009

The Penn State Nittany Lions added another signature win to their resume Wednesday night by beating the Illinois Fighting Illini 38-33. 

In a game where the score was reminiscent of a middle school girls' basketball game, both teams struggled to make shots, even lay-ups. Neither team shot over 30 percent from the field, and the top scorer was Talor with just 11 points.

Each team went on scoring streaks, however small they were. Around halftime, the Illini went on a 13-4 run, and eventually took a nine point lead with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. 

It seemed as if the Illini were on their way to victory, when they suddenly went ice cold, making only one bucket in the next six minutes. The key for the Lions was going on a 14-2 run to close out the game and claim the victory.

Although neither team played well, the Lions had more positives to take away from the game. Players such as Andrew Jones, Andrew Ott, Chris Babb, and Cammeron Woodyard stepped up and played key roles during the game, taking pressure off the big three of Talor Battle, Jamelle Cornley, and Stanley Pringle. 

Cornley was double-teamed almost every time he touched the ball in or around the paint.  But Ott and Jones were able to pick up the slack, combining for 11 points and 12 rebounds. Babb and Woodyard came off the bench to hit some key perimeter shots, including two big three-pointers from Babb.

Illinois struggled from the get-go, and only got it going for about 11 minutes around halftime. Their three guards—McCamey, Meachum and Frazier—combined for just 19 points. Frazier was able to contain Talor Battle on the defensive end, however, or this game could have been worse for the Illini.

With this win, the Nittany Lions have gained sole possession of fourth place in the conference. If they can play well in the next four games and hold onto that spot, it would not only give them a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, but most likely an NCAA bid.

Next up: at Ohio State (17-7)(7-6).