STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but Penn State finally managed its first Big Ten Conference win of the season.
D.J. Newbill scored 16 points to lead the Nittany Lions past Nebraska 58-54 Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
After several near misses, including a loss to Purdue Saturday in which the Nittany Lions led by three with 16 seconds to go but lost at the buzzer, Penn State was able to finally close out a game.
"I think it's great for us," Penn State player Tim Frazier said. "In our last couple games we've been right there. Finally we were able to finish out a game. The ball bounced our way."
John Johnson scored 13 for the Nittany Lions (10-10, 1-6), and Brandon Taylor and Frazier each had 11.
Terran Petteway paced the Cornhuskers (9-9, 1-5) with 15, and Ray Gallegos added 10.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles sounded like a coach that knew his team let one slip away.
"I thought our kids kept fighting. We had basically given the game up with some silly turnovers earlier than that. You've just got to keep fighting," he said.
With the breakthrough Big-Ten win finally in hand, Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said he had thoughts of affirmation instead of relief.
"That's Penn State basketball. That's it," he said. "We work hard and that's what I want to see. I want to see my guys make winning plays."
Nebraska led 29-22 at halftime, but Penn State grabbed a 47-45 lead with 4:19 left in the second when Newbill scored on a driving layup.
The Huskers replied with a trey by Shavon Shields, but Taylor made a free throw and Donovan Jack made a putback to pull Penn State within 51-50.
Penn State's full-court press forced a turnover, with Frazier diving for the loose ball, then passing it from the sitting position to Newbill, who threw down a thunderous dunk and was fouled. He made the free throw and Penn State never trailed again.
"It was just instinct. I dove, I got the ball, I saw him up there, I threw it and he made a tremendous play," Frazier said.
Newbill gave all the credit to Frazier.
"Tim just made a great play," he said. "I just finished it.
Frazier downplayed the significance of that single play.
"Obviously that was the play that is going to be magnified because it was so magnificent with the dunk," he said. "I think a lot of things happened that we had to finish the game. That was something we've been trying to do for the last couple games. We finally did."
On Penn State's next possession, Frazier passed to a wide-open Johnson beyond the arc as the clock wound down. Johnson drained the trey.
Nebraska went right down and answered, with Petteway making a deep three to pull the Cornhuskers to within 56-54.
On the resulting inbound play, Penn State turned the ball over and it looked like the Nittany Lions might fritter away another game.
But on Nebraska's inbound with 10.4 seconds to go, Penn State forced a loose ball and, with bodies scattered everywhere on the floor, a player for each team cradled the ball. The Nittany Lions were awarded the ball on the alternate possession.
Frazier was fouled and made both free throws with 2.7 seconds left.
Through it all, Chambers said he never harbored thoughts of here we go again.
"Not tonight. I just felt like we were really prepared. We were ready to go," he said. "We had a great lineup in. Even when we turned it over, they looked at me. I said, `Attitude. We're going to be fine. Let's get this stop. We know exactly what we want to do. We worked on it for three days.' And we got a turnover. We stayed positive."
*** Posted by Josh Harvey, game thread by Josh Harvey ***