The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

February 17, 2013

Penn State fades late in loss at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Penn State is still winless in Big Ten play this season.

In fact, it has been more than a year since the Nittany Lions won a conference game.

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, though, was encouraged by some of what he saw when No. 4 Michigan beat the Nittany Lions 79-71 Sunday.

“The energy, attitude and resolve we’ve had has been incredible,” Chambers said. “We’re getting better. A couple weeks ago, we wouldn’t have been in this game.”

Trey Burke scored a season-high 29 points and freshman Glen Robinson III matched a career high with 21 to help the Wolverines win a game they never dominated.

Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) had dropped three of its previous four games, including a 23-point loss Tuesday night on the road against No. 8 Michigan State, and needed a half to shake off its slump.

The Wolverines appeared to still be struggling to get over their blowout against the rival Spartans when they trailed for much of the first half against the conference’s last-place team.

“They were knocking down 3s and they were getting to the basket for some easy points,” Robinson said.

The Nittany Lions (8-17, 0-13) led by as many as eight points in the first half. They went ahead 7-plus minutes into the game and had the lead until Burke made a game-tying, off-balance fadeaway with 55 seconds left in the first half.

“It was an incredible shot,” Chambers said. “It looked like he was going to pass it, but he hung in the air long enough that he could change his mind and shoot it. And, he’s talented enough that he made it.”

Jermaine Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak each scored 17 points, while D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis had 11 points apiece for the Nittany Lions. Penn State, coming off a two-point loss to Iowa, is desperately trying to win a Big Ten game for the first time since beating the Hawkeyes on Feb. 16, 2012.

“The first half went as well as it could’ve for us, but giving up almost 50 points in the second half was not executing our game plan,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to learn how to make plays down the stretch to win.”

Robinson appeared to help the Wolverines pull away with eight-point leads early in the second half. The Nittany Lions, though, wouldn’t wilt easily. Penn State pulled within a point midway through the half, but couldn’t get the lead back.

Robinson played well following a poor performance at Michigan State, where he matched a season low with two points.

“He probably had four or five dunks to do a good job of igniting them,” Chambers said.

Tim Hardaway Jr., meanwhile, was off offensively for a second straight game. Hardaway scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting after equaling a career low with two points and missing 10 of 11 shots against the Spartans.

Freshman Nik Stauskas scored 18 points, giving the Wolverines the third scoring option they needed to avoid an upset.

“I told the guys, this was a gritty, not pretty, win,” Burke said.

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