Penn State has not won a regular season road game against a Big Ten opponent since March 6, 2011 against Minnesota.
Patrick Chambers, who was not yet a part of the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff for this win, knows of the team's road struggles all too well.
“Losing in somebody else’s house, there’s nothing like it,” the Lions' coach said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “I say that all the time. It’s going to be an amazing feeling for these kids [when they win on the road]…Hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later.”
If the Lions (9-19, 1-15 Big Ten) are unable to defeat a reeling Northwestern (13-16, 4-12) squad at 7 tonight, they will have to wait until next season to notch their first conference road victory under Chambers.
Despite finally attaining their first conference victory of the season -- home or away -- against Michigan last week, this time Chambers’s squad was blown out on the road against the Golden Gophers, 73-44, on Saturday. The Gophers held the Lions to a season-low 12 points in the first half on just 27 percent shooting, and the road team was never able to recover afterward.
Chambers was blunt in discussing the team’s setback loss, but remained positive in regard to how the table is set for the Lions in the final two games.
“It was one game. We have to move on,” Chambers said. “We have to continue to get better. We haven’t been beaten like that all year. It happens. I told them it was the perfect storm.”
The second-year coach reiterated that the ideal finish to the season will not be determined by his team’s record, but rather by the players’ ability to play to their potential.
It appeared the Lions were able to accomplish this, at least temporarily, against the then-No. 4 Wolverines last week, when they shocked the college basketball world with a 84-78 victory on Senior Night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
After losing to the Gophers on their Senior Day on Saturday, the Lions will have another shot to steal the show at Northwestern’s Senior Night this evening. And although the Wildcats have lost six straight games, Chambers said the Senior Night magic has proven to be lethal enough in itself to provide teams with extra motivation.
“All I’m going to say is it’s Senior Night [for Northwestern],” Chambers said. “That’s all I have to say. Another Senior Night. You saw how Minnesota played. They played out of their mind. You saw how we played… It’s going to be a brutal game, a tough game.”
Many players came up short in the Lions’ last road game — most notably D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis, who shot a combined 5-of-27 — and it will likely take an all-around improvement to attain the first road win of the season tonight.
And though the goings have been tough away from the BJC this year, Chambers said he and his players won’t have any trouble getting up for the team’s last chance at a road win tonight, before returning home for the season finale against Wisconsin on Sunday.
“I love playing on the road, especially in the Big Ten,” Chambers said. “It’s the best. It is. There’s nothing like going on the road and winning, although we haven’t done it yet. We will.”