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Newbill leads Penn State to play-in victory

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DJ Newbill scored 26 points as 13th-seeded Penn State held off a late rally by 12th-seeded Nebraska to win 68-65 in the play-in round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Penn State set a new Big Ten tournament record with 16 blocked shots in the win.

Terrian Pettaway and Shavon Shields combined for a total of 49 out of Nebraska’s 65 points to keep the Cornhuskers within reach but it was not enough to overcome a dismal 30 percent shooting performance. Nebraska also outrebounded Penn State 51-34.

Penn State gave the offensively challenged Cornhuskers a tough time on both ends of the floor, as they shot as much as 52 percent from the field in the first ten minutes, and recorded nine blocked shots on the defensive end. Nebraska kept things close, but Penn State gained momentum after a late Brandon Taylor lay-up to maintain a 34-29 halftime lead.

Penn State came back into the second half and established a double -digit lead of 45-35 after a 14-1 run. Nebraska played catch-up by scoring 10 unanswered points in four minutes to bring the lead down to single digits at 51-45 with 11:53 left on the clock. Nebraska’s full court pressure prevented Penn State from driving into the lane and finishing plays, resulting in a six-minute scoring drought for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State ended the drought with a Shep Garner lay-up to go start an 8-2 run to establish a 59-51 with 7:40 on the clock. Nebraska did not give in, as they closed the lead to 59-56 after a series of free throws and a Shields layup.

The Nittany Lions looked like they ran out of gas as they missed free throws  and were absent on the glass, which allowed Nebraska to get within one to 63-62 with 3:03  left.

The game went down to the wire after Pettaway was sent to the free throw twice, which brought Nebraska within one at 66-65 with 43 seconds left. Geno Thorpe was sent to the free throw line with 4 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Newbill led the way with 26 points, a career-high 4 blocks, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Garner was the only other Nittany Lions player to reach double digits as he ended the game with 19 points.

Pettaway finished with 29 points for Nebraska, while Shields clocked in with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

Penn State will face the Iowa Hawkeyes Thursday in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

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