UNIVERSITY PARK — After Thursday’s 70-54 home loss that gave Northwestern its first conference win, Penn State will look to rebound today with an important road contest against Purdue.
What was once a 6-2 team after Tim Frazier went down with an injury, is now off to an 0-3 start in the Big Ten.
The game is scheduled to begin at noon on the Big Ten Network.
It has been a brutal week for Penn State. It began with a 74-51 thumping at home against No. 5 Indiana on Monday and it continued with a lethargic loss to the Wildcats.
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Penn State coach Patrick Chambers blamed himself after the game for his team’s lack of intensity.
“This one’s on me,” he said following the game. “I have to do a better job. I have to do a much better job of preparing my team and getting them ready to play.”
“I don’t see desperation,” Chambers continued later. “I don’t see ruthless, relentless. I see it out of me and the coaching staff, but I don’t see it from the players. But that goes back to me. I have to somehow dial into them and somehow figure it out.”
Their foibles have been apparent.
The offense that netted 78.5 points per game in the final four non-conference games (all victories) has dried to 52 points in conference play. In the last two games, the Nittany Lions shot about 32 percent from the field in each. They also averaged about 24 percent from the 3-point line.
Turnovers and foul trouble have also plagued Penn State (8-6, 0-3 Big Ten).
Against the Hoosiers the Nittany Lions committed 19 turnovers and followed that with 11 more against the Wildcats.
They are also giving up 28.6 free throws over the last three games and only getting themselves to the line 10 times per game.
However, there have been modest bright spots that portend positives for the future.
D.J. Newbill looks to have become a go-to guy on offense. The sophomore guard scored 20 points in the loss to Northwestern and looked to carry the offensive load for long stretches.
It was his fifth 20-point game this season. He is averaging 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Jermaine Marshall is scoring 14.5 points per game and has posted double-figures in 10 of his last 11. He is also shooting 48 percent from the field in three conference games, though he shot just 4-of-12 against Northwestern.
That duo is earning valuable experience that could make Penn State formidable next season if a healthy Tim Frazier returns to the fold. Frazier, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon in November, will apply for a medical hardship waiver that would grant him another year of eligibility next season.
But for now, the Nittany Lions will have to deal with a tested and rested Purdue team.
The Boilermakers opened the Big Ten season with three-straight ranked opponents. They upset then-No.11 Illinois 68-61 at home to open conference play but have since lost to No. 22 Michigan State and then No. 15 Ohio State.