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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Facing Spartans Thursday Night

by on February 06, 2014 11:30 AM

Penn State basketball hasn't on four straight games in regular season conference play since 2009. A drought that has as much to do with the Nittany Lions as it does the depth and talent of the rest of the Big Ten. Penn State can repeat history on Thursday night though as the Nittany Lions take on Michigan State on the road in East Lansing.

Fittingly, the streak in 2009 was set at four games following a 72-68 victory on the road against the Spartans despite a first half deficit of 13 points. So if the stars are lining up for yet another upset victory for Penn State in 2014, the Nittany Lions will just need to make sure their own stars make the trip.

Coming fresh off of a Big Ten Player of The Week honor, guard DJ Newbill will be the focus of much of the Spartan defense as the junior has averaged 20 points and just over 6 rebounds per game over the past three games. Penn State's winning streak the longest active winning streak in the Big Ten thanks in large part to the outstanding play by Newbill.

In the first meeting between the two teams Penn State opened up Big Ten play with a 47-point first half but eventually fell 79-63 after struggling to score in the second stanza. The Nittany Lions are a much different and a much better team than at the start of conference play this season, especially over the past three games.

A 47-point half may not be in the cards but the Nittany Lions' upset overtime victory over Ohio State has given the team plenty of confidence when it comes to playing on the road.

Newbill won't be able to do it all on his own though, graduate guard Tim Frazier will have to continue to be effective and Brandon Taylor will need to be able to continue his three game clip of 15.0 ppg, while shooting 47 percent from 3-range.

While Newbill and Frazier will carry Penn State most of the way on Thursday night, the Nittany Lions' ability to win over the past three games has come from a complete team effort on both ends of the floor. That kind of play will have to continue if Penn State has a shot at handing the Spartans their second conference loss of the season.

Tip is set for 9:00 PM on ESPN2.

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