STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Shep Garner scored 18 points, Payton Banks added 17 and Penn State beat Illinois, 71-67, on Saturday.
Tony Carr and Mike Watkins chipped in 13 and 10 points, respectively, and Watkins pulled down nine rebounds for the Nittany Lions who held on after leading by 20 at halftime. The win snapped a 3-game losing skid for Penn State.
Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 19 points and Jalen Colman-Lands added 13.
Penn State (12-10, 4-5 Big Ten) led for all but 1:15 and took control early with pinpoint shooting.
The Nittany Lions made 60 percent of their first half shots and Garner hit the first of his team’s nine 3-pointers on his first attempt of the game. Meanwhile, the Illini (13-9, 3-6) endured two scoreless stretches in the first 20 minutes totaling 6:44 while the Nittany Lions dropped in 20 points in that span to build a 45-25 halftime lead.
The Illini battled back and Coleman-Lands cut the lead to 65-62 with a 3-pointer with 1:58 left but Garner hit four free throws in the final 38 seconds to keep it out of reach.
THE BIG PICTURE
Illinois: The Fighting Illini dropped to 0-5 on the road. They’ll return home for their next two but it won’t get any easier — their next two opponents are a combined 33-10 — before heading back out of town to face third-place Northwestern (17-4, 6-2).
Penn State: The Nittany Lions needed to reboot after being outscored by an average of 26 points in their last two losses on the road.
Illinois hosts No. 15 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Penn State travels to Indiana on Wednesday.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.