Balanced Purdue holds off Penn State 80-72

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PISCATAWAY, NJ – DECEMBER 29: Head coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers reacts to a play during the second half of a college basketball game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Athletic Center on December 29, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers defeated Purdue 81-76. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Sasha Stefanovic led a balanced attack with 15 points, Trevion Willilams had a double-double and Purdue held off rusty Penn State 80-72 on Sunday.

It was Purdue’s first home game since Christmas Day and the first game for Penn State since Dec. 30 after four conference games were postponed due to cornavirus concerns across the league.

Eric Hunter Jr. scored 14 points for the Boilermakers (10-5, 5-3 Big Ten Conference), Williams had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Brandon Newman also had 13 points and Mason Gilles added 12.

Myreon Jones scored a career-high 23 points for the Nittany Lions (3-5, 0-4), who have lost four straight while starting a run of four games in seven days. John Harrar added a career-high 14 points with 14 rebounds and Izaiah Brockington scored 12.

Gillis hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to give Purdue a 33-32 lead and opened the second half with another 3 to start a 10-0 run and the cold-shooting Nittany Lions could never quite recover.

Penn State shot 28% (13 of 47) in the second half but more than half (7 of 26) were from 3-point range. It helped that of the Nittany Lions’ 49 rebounds, 23 were on the offensive end for 29 second-chance points.

Purdue, after starting the second half going 10 of 15 to hold a 64-48 lead with 8:43 to play were 2 of 8 the rest of the way. But as Penn State inched closer, finally getting within four on a Jones 3-pointer with 17 seconds to go, Purdue was scoring its last 12 points from the foul line on 16 attempts. Jones had four 3s in the last 2:37.

The Boilermakers play at Ohio State on Tuesday and the Nittany Lions are at Illinois on Tuesday and home against Rutgers on Thursday and Northwestern on Saturday.

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