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Penn State Basketball: Newbill, Travis Push Nittany Lions Past Bucknell 88-80

by on November 28, 2014 7:20 PM

Final: Penn State 88 Bucknell 80. Nittany Lions improve to 6-1 on the year.

How It Happened:

Penn State opened the game hot and never looked back. The Nittany Lions led by as many as 12 and in total led for 38:57 and never trailed in the game. Ross Travis' hot 6-for-7 shooting started Penn State off on the right foot as the Nittany Lions opened a 14-5 margin only four minutes into the game. The Bison cut that down to a five point game with 12 minutes remaining before Penn State pushed back with a quick run to turn an 18-13 into a 31-19 cushion. 

Bucknell never stopped fighting though, making big threes and tough buckets. The Nittany Lion lead was whittled down to 31-28 with 3:41 remaining in the half.

Key shots by DJ Newbill gave Penn State a 6 point advantage at the intermission.

Newbill picked up where he left off with a 21 point second half after being held to only 7 points in the opening 20 minutes. From there Penn State continued to control the game, leading by 10 with 11:50 to go. Streaky shooting and some lucky threes from deep kept Bucknell in the game and with 8:31 to go the Nittany Lions led by only 2.

Penn State once again pushed back the oncoming Bison with a quick run to open a 6 point lead before Bucknell once again spurted forward to tie the game with 6:19 to play.

But it was all Nittany Lions from there. Penn State went on a 22-14 run to close out the contest and push its lead back out to 11 points with 2:39 remaining. Bucknell would get within 5 in the final 1:05 but could not get over the hump as the Nittany Lions hit free throws and baskets.

It Was Over When:

After a Bucknell three tied the game with 6:19 to play Penn State responded in kind with a 9-1 run to open things -- increasing its lead to 76-67 with 4:07 to play. The Bison would get within five in the final two minutes of play but the Nittany Lions continued to answer each and every Bucknell run with scores of their own.

Stats Of The Game:

DJ Newbill would score 21 second half points en route to his fifth straight game of 20 or more points. In the past five contests Newbill has gone for 35,26,22,29 and now 28 points. Newbill had a chance to make it 30 but two missed free throws late kept that from happening. 

Probably more importantly for Penn State though, Ross Travis had his best game of the season and one of the best in his career with a 6-of-7 shooting effort coupled with 2-of-3 from beyond the arc as well as 5 rebounds to his name. Those points were particularly important to Penn State's early lead and strong start after Newbill was held to only 7 points in the opening 20 minutes. 

Penn State shot 55.6% from the floor and 53.3% (8-15) from beyond the arc while Bucknell was held to 49.1% shooting and 62% (10-16) from behind the arc.

Penn State now finishes a stretch of 7 games in 14 days to open the season.

Player Of The Game:

DJ Newbill continued to show why he is one of the best guards in the nation with a 28 point performance that was even a little off by his standards. Twenty-one second half points on 6-of-10 shooting was as productive as it gets. Not to be overlooked though -- defensive guru Geno Thorpe went for 12 points and 4 rebounds but racked up even more hustle plays and defensive plays that don't show on the stat sheet. There were a few too many unneeded fouls in-between, but overall this was a performance that shouldn't be forgotten. Ross Travis' first half could be a breakout moment for him early in his senior season.

What's Next:

The Nittany Lions host Virginia Tech at the Bryce Jordan Center next Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. The game is Penn State's first leg in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.   

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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