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Lions Off To Good Start In Conference Play

Penn State 79
Northwestern 68

You can see the Boxscore here.

The Nittany Lions started off conference play this year the same way they did last year...with a spanking of Northwestern. The only difference is this year they did it on the road. It may not sound like a big deal, but this is the first game Penn State has won away from the Bryce Jordan Center since beating the Wildcats in the Big Ten Tournament back in March of 2006. And it's the first win on an opponent's home court since beating Purdue in February of 2006.

Much like last year Cornley and Claxton lead the way. Each played the full 40 minutes and each registered double-doubles. Claxton had 18 points while Cornley had 22. Each player got 11 rebounds. Claxton did much of his scoring by beating his man off the dribble and slashing to the basket. Cornley on the other hand was the beneficiary of some fantasticly patient half court passing that fed him easy layups and dunks for many of his points.

Last year it would have been entirely on Claxton and Cornley to win the game. Unless one of the trio of Morrissey, Luber, or Walker had a big game and put up 15-20 points we lost. This year there is a corp of new players to help them out, and help them out they did. Talor Battle scored 14 points and played a good all around game with 2 rebounds, three steals, and four assists.

Stanley Pringle also made a major contribution last night. He and Battle rotated at the one guard through the first half, but DeChellis put them both on the floor together for much of the second half to use their athleticism to guard the talented outside shooters for the Wildcats. Penn State outscored them 45-33 in the second half as a result. Pringle also made a major contribution on the offensive end with 17 points and 6 assists of his own while making 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

DeChellis chose to go with a small lineup most of the night. Andrew Jones only played six minutes at the beginning of the game and Brandon Hassell didn't get into the game at all.

A very encouraging sign was the turnaround in free throw shooting. After struggling for most of the season the Lions shot 12-of-14 from the line last night. Battle and Pringle each went 4-for-4 while Claxton went 4-for-6. We'll need to convert those easy points as the conference schedule gets harder.

Since classes are out of session right now the cagers will stay in Illinois over the next few days until their game against the Fighting Illini on Sunday. The game starts at 2 PM and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.