Penn State started cold Sunday.
The Nittany Lions missed their first 10 shots and shot 27 percent from the field in the first half. But they took a four-point lead into halftime and came out of the break on fire to pull away in a 60-47 win over Rutgers.
Penn State knocked down 8 of their first 10 shots in the second half and used a 14-0 run to build an 18-point lead with more than 12 minutes left. The Nittany Lions cruised the rest of the way to earn their first Big Ten win.
Payton Banks scored 20 points to lead Penn State (9-6, 1-1). Tony Carr added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Lamar Stevens had eight points and eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who battled stomach flu during the week. Penn State’s Shep Garner, Mike Watkins and Terrence Samuel were among the players who were sick, so Garner and Watkins came off the bench for the first time this season.
“I just kind of stayed away from those guys. Stayed hydrated,” Carr said. “Lots of vitamin C and took some pills to make sure my stomach was good.”
Mike Williams had 16 points on 5 for 17 shooting to lead the Scarlet Knights (11-4, 0-2) in front of a crowd of 6,079.
“I loved the crowd,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “It was awesome and I’m glad they came out. They should come out and support this team. This team is working hard and these guys have done a very good job. So I was excited and it was a great environment. They kept plucking away for us, too. This team is going to keep fighting for them.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half.
The Nittany Lions went 9 for 33 from the field, and Rutgers went 10 for 33.
After taking a 27-23 lead into halftime, Penn State used its early burst in the second half to take a 47-29 lead.
Banks, who finished 5 for 10 from 3-point range, started the team’s 14-0 run with a three-point play. Carr finished it with a 3-pointer with 12:43 left, giving the Nittany Lions what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
“It’s been interesting — the challenge,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “But this is the road we have to take and these kids took a big step.”
Notes: Penn State faces Michigan on the road at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. ... Watkins finished with five points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes, and Garner went 0 for 6 from the field and finished scoreless in 24 minutes. ... Julian Moore started along with Josh Reaves, Banks, Carr and Stevens. Moore had six points and three rebounds. ... Rutgers shot 28.6 percent from the field.