The backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill was expected to be an explosive combination for the Penn State men’s basketball team this season.
The duo proved to be just that Saturday afternoon at the Palestra.
The pair combined for 48 points as the Nittany Lions earned an 83-71 win over Pennsylvania in their first road game of the season.
Frazier was a workhorse in playing 39 minutes while amassing 29 points, seven assists, three blocks and two steals. He also was a sharp shooter, making 9 of 13 from the floor and 11 of his 12 free throw attempts.
Newbill, a graduate of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, enjoyed his return home with 19 points and pulled down six rebounds.
“It’s great playing against these Big 5 teams,” Newbill said. “You always know it’s going to be a street fight. Penn was down but they gave us a fight to the end.”
Allen Roberts tossed in nine points, Brandon Taylor scored eight points and Ross Travis grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Nittany Lions (2-1) built an early lead to coast to the win, holding a lead as large as 25 points in the first half thanks to 59.4 percent shooting before the break. The margin was still 47-24 at the break before the Quakers tried to rally.
“We made shots early,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “And I think that was the difference.”
Penn opened the second half on a 10-0 run, and the Quakers continued to chip away at the lead after that, but the margin never dropped into single digits and Frazier scored nine of his points in the final 10 minutes to help lock up the win.
“It was great,” Frazier said. “Just to get the opportunity to play the game of basketball in a great arena like this was so much background, it was an honor to be able to step on the court and be able to participate this year, especially after sitting out all of last year.”
Roberts also was lending a hand with a 3 for 5 showing from 3-point range.
“Those 3s were huge to keep the momentum going and keep them at bay,” Chambers said. “They would go on a little bit of a run and he would hit a timely 3. That’s exactly what he has to be on this team.”
Fran Dougherty and Tony Hicks each scored 14 points for Penn, which began to use its size advantage to assert some dominance in the paint after the break. Also leading the way was 6-foot-11 Darien Nelson-Henry, who led the Quakers with 21 points and five rebounds.
But the Quakers were having their difficulties from long range, making just 4 of 19 3-point attempts.
After struggling through last season averaging 61.6 points per game, the Nittany Lion offense has been on fire through the first three games this season, averaging 79 points per night. They opened Saturday’s game making 13 of their first 19 shots and finished making 53.7 percent from the floor for the game.
“Whether it was Newbill getting into the paint, Frazier getting layups or Travis getting open shots, it was our inability to execute our plan defensively that was a large reason why they almost had 50 points in the first half,” Allen said.
Notes: Chambers, a Philly native, has plenty of connections with Penn. His brother Paul was a three-year starting point guard for the Quakers from 1989-92 and played one season with Allen. Another brother, Tim, was the 1984 Ivy League Player of the Year as a defensive back in football. ... Penn State has won eight of its last nine meetings with Penn. ... The Nittany Lions will face another Big Five team for their next game, hosting LaSalle on Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center.