Beaten down by the trials and tribulations of a 10-game losing streak, the Nittany Lions will look to lick their wounds and gear up for another road battle.
Penn State faced one of its lowest points of the season on Jan. 13. Trailing by two points with just 20 seconds remaining against Nebraska, the Lions went 1-for-6 at the free throw line down the stretch to lose in the Bryce Jordan Center 68-64. The loss dropped the Lions to 0-6 in the Big Ten and was most disappointing because the Cornhuskers were the only other conference team without a win at the time.
Things have continued to spiral downward for the Lions (8-14, 0-10 Big Ten) who dropped their most recent game to Purdue on Tuesday. They travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska (11-12, 2-8 Big Ten) again Saturday at 9 p.m., looking to pick up their first conference victory.
Opportunities for the Lions are fading with just eight games left on the regular season schedule. Even with the difficult odds the Lions have faced, they have continued to play hard with a focus on defense and rebounding.
“Every game is tough, every loss is even tougher,” redshirt sophomore D.J. Newbill said after Tuesday’s loss. “Our goal is to be the best team we can be by the end of the season. We all have a great attitude, we just keep pushing. We’re all working so hard, we feel like we deserve a win and soon we feel like we’re going to get one.”
Against the Cornhuskers, the Lions will have to account for freshman Shavon Shields. The 6-foot-6 guard scored a career-high 29 points when the teams last met, pestering the Lions from midrange and on the drive. The freshman was able to draw contact and get to the line shooting 8-of-8 on free throws.
Foul trouble hurt the Lions once again Tuesday as the Lions’ big men Sasa Borovnjak and Jon Graham both fouled out of the game trying to defend Purdue’s A.J. Hammons. Nebraska’s lack of a strong inside presence should give the Lions a better shot.
Redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall will have to bounce back from a poor performance last game against Purdue, as the 14.7 point per game scorer was held to just seven as the Lions scored under 50 points for the third time this season.
Amidst the difficult stint, coach Patrick Chambers continues to stress camaraderie within his team. He encourages his players to avoid finger pointing and stick together through these tough times.
“When times are tough, you have to come together even more,” Chambers said. “We're going to see that for the future because that's the way this program is going to handle itself. We're going to get back to work tomorrow and that's the way it's going to be. We have to support each other. I always talk about foxhole mentality, meaning get your teammate's back. If he goes down, you better go pick him up.”