Illini Break Losing Streak With Win Over Penn State
By Jim Meadows, with Additional Reporting from Rob McColley
Illinois’ men’s basketball team defeated Penn State 60 to 55 on Sunday at College Station, Pennsylvania, making victories over the Nittany Lions bookends for the Illini’s eight-game losing streak.
Kendrick Nunn led Illinois (14-10, 3-8 Big Ten) with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. 11 of Nunn’s points were scored in the 2nd half, helping the Illini hold on to a lead that began at the 5:15 mark. Malcolm Hill added 11 points and Rayvonte Rice scored 9 for Illinois.
Nunn had 19, including 4-of-9 from three-point range. Hill added eleven. Coach John Groce said there was a need for a lineup change.
"We talked about that the last couple days," he said. "We thought it might be in the best interest of us moving forward. I really felt like Nunn and Hill had evolved, and kind of earned that opportunity with the way they learned our defense. Nunn was also the scholar athlete of the week on campus."
For Penn State (12-12, 3-8), the top scorers were D.J. Newbill with 19 points and Tim Frazier with 11. Despite Penn State’s loss, Frazier became the Lion’s career leader in assists, passing Freddie Barnes (600) with 601.
Illinois’ win ended an eight-game losing streak that began after their previous win (75-55) over Penn State on January 4th.
The victory gives the two teams identical conference records for the season of 3-8 or .273 --- tying them for last place in the Big Ten Conference.
Meanwhile, the Illinois women’s basketball team lost at #24 Minnesota Sunday, 66- 61.
Illinois’ next men’s basketball game is Wednesday, at Nebraska, at 8 p.m.