STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Kendrick Nunn scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half and Illinois halted its eight-game losing streak with a 60-55 victory over Penn State on Sunday.
Nunn, averaging 4.1 points per game, was 7 for 13 from the field and made four 3-pointers for Illinois (14-10, 3-8 Big Ten). Malcolm Hill added 11 and Rayvonte Rice nine for the Illini.
Illinois grabbed a 53-52 lead at the 5:15 mark and hung on.
Penn State (12-12, 3-8), which has lost two straight games after a modest three-game conference win streak, was led by 19 points from D.J. Newbill and 11 from Tim Frazier. The Newbill-Frazier backcourt tandem entered the game ranked fifth in NCAA scoring totals. Frazier also became Penn State’s career leader in assists, passing Freddie Barnes (600) with 601.
Illinois’ last victory was a 75-55 decision over Penn State Jan. 4.
The pace slowed considerably late in the game as both teams combined for just 12 points in 10 minutes. Illinois built a 49-45 lead at the 12:52 mark but didn’t score again until 6:30 remained.
An open Nunn took a feed from Tracy Abrams and drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 22 seconds left, but Newbill’s immediate answer with a baseline drive brought the Lions to within 57-55.
Abrams’ two free throws put the Illini up by four and a Rice rebound off a missed Frazier 3-pointer sealed it for Illinois.
Illinois drew a fourth foul on Penn State forward Donovon Jack midway through the second half. Jack fouled out at the 2:28 mark with eight points, all in the first half.
Baskets by Brandon Taylor and Newbill pushed the Lions up by three points, but back-to-back drives by Nunn sandwiched around Penn State turnovers enabled the Illini to regain the lead at 53-52.
The teams played a frenetic first half to a deadlock at 31 as Illinois rallied from a 16-7 deficit and Penn State crawled out of a 31-22 hole.
Illinois held Frazier to six first-half points but he scored all six during Penn State’s late 9-0 run.
Frazier scored the Lions’ first five points to open the second half but Rice snapped out of his early game slump to score nine points in the first five minutes to maintain the game’s back-and-forth pace.
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