Penn State shook off an awful shooting performance in the first half to hand Bucknell its first loss of the season.
The Nittany Lions downed the Bison, 60-57, in their first game without All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon last week. Penn State outscored Bucknell by nine and shot a red hot 65.3 percent (17-for-26) in the final 20 minutes before a Black Friday crowd of 7,713 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State (3-2) held the lead for the final nine minutes, but Bucknell was able to make things close at the end. The Lions — who were 9-for-20 from the line for the contest — missed some a few free throws late, but Bucknell's Cameron Ayers missed a corner 3-pointer with time winding down.
Bucknell (5-1) took a six-point lead to the locker room thanks to a dismal shooting performance from the Lions. Penn State was 5-for-31 (16.1 percent) in the first half and 4-for-10 from the foul line.
"Our kids played hard, they didn't let missing shots or turning the ball over affect their effort," coach Patrick Chambers said.
However, the Lions were able to keep it close mainly due to the performance of Brandon Taylor, who got the start in place of Frazier.
The freshman matched his career total with 16 points in the contest and he netted 14 of the Lions 22 points. The 6-foot-7 swingman also connected on four of his eight attempts from beyond arc.
"I don't know if Bucknell thought much of Brandon Taylor, because we're only five games in, he hasn't really done much," Chambers said. "But we know in practice what he's capable of, and he's got a lot of confidence."
Jermaine Marshall finished with a game-high 17 points and hit two clutch free throws with less than 20 seconds remaining to give the Lions a five-point lead.
The Bison entered the game averaging 70 points per contest, but were stymied by the Penn State defense. Bucknell turned the ball over 13 times and had just three offensive rebounds, while Penn State pulled down 14 boards on the offensive glass.