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January 12, 2013

Game 16: Penn State

For the first time this Big Ten season, Purdue will face an unranked team.

Not only that, but when Penn State visits Mackey Arena for a noon tip on Sunday, it'll come in struggling.

Hamstrung by the loss of star guard Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions are winless in three league games and coming off being routed at home by Northwestern 70-54.

Purdue, meanwhile, comes off a run of three consecutive games against top-25 opponents to open conference play. After beating Illinois, the Boilermakers lost at Michigan State, then at home to Ohio State, losses that have dropped Purdue back under .500, at 7-8.

But even in defeat, Purdue's been showing some signs of progress, specifically on offense, where it's turning the ball over far less than it did earlier in the season and simply functioning better than it has all season.

"Like we said from the beginning of the season, we're a young team but I feel like we're getting better and better," guard Terone Johnson said, "but nobody's satisfied with losses. We're going to keep trying to get wins and keep trying to get better every practice."

Penn State comes in at 8-7, 6-6 since losing Frazier to a blown Achilles in the fourth game.
"It doesn't just hurt them from an offensive standpoint, but it hurts them defensively, too," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Any time you have a point guard with that kind of quickness and athleticism and experience, you just don't have another one waiting in the wings.
"They've had to have some guys play out of position and take on some of his responsibilities. There's no doubt it has affected them."
Last season, Frazier just under 19 points per game and led the Big Ten in assists.
Projected Lineups
G: Terone Johnson
G: Ronnie Johnson
F: D.J. Byrd
F: Jacob Lawson
C: A.J. Hammons

Penn State
G: D.J. Newbill (6-4, 205, So.)
G: Jermaine Marshall (6-4, 205, Jr.)
F: Ross Travis (6-6 225, So.)
F: Brandon Taylor (6-7, 235, Fr.)
F: Sasa Borovnjak (6-9, 240, Sr.)

Northwestern used a 25-4 first-half run to blow the game open in State College. … Newbill, a transfer from Southern Miss, is Penn State's top active scorer, averaging 15.3 points. He's scored 10 or more in all but two games this season. He's taken over at point guard now that Frazier's out. … fellow guard Jermaine Marshall averages 14.5 points. … Travis, a 6-foot-6 forward, averages a team-best 7.5 rebounds. … Penn State has trailed by at least 14 points in each of its first three Big Ten games. … in the loss at Wisconsin, Penn State didn't score from the foul line, missing its only attempt. … in its first full game without Frazier, Penn State beat Bucknell 60-57. That's the same Bucknell team that won in Mackey Arena to open the season.

About Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Statistics

About Penn State: Roster | Schedule | Statistics

Broadcast Info
Game time: 12 p.m.
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
TV: Big Ten Network
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."

Things to think about
1. A simple one: Can Purdue simply handle a team it should beat? This is the first time this Big Ten season the Boilermakers go into a game as a favorite.

2. Ronnie Johnson's played fairly well lately and if he can continue is upward trajectory, that remains the position where improvement can have the most profound impact on the Boilermakers.

3. Can Purdue rebound in the rebounding column? The Boilermakers were hammered on the glass in the second half at Michigan State and first against Ohio State. Now here's a matchup where it might be able to re-assert itself on the boards.

4. Can Terone Johnson be more efficient? The junior guard is having a very solid season for Purdue, but the Boilermakers' leading scorer has needed a lot of shots to put points on the board the past two games.

Since scoring a career-high 25 against Illinois, he's scored 29 points on 13-of-40 shooting the past two games, having made 1-of-7 from three and producing just two points from the foul line.

GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Like we said prior to the season, Purdue could improve through the course of the season without it translating into wins due to the challenges posed by Big Ten powers this season. You've seen that here and there the past two games. Now it's time to for Purdue to show progress, but came away with something to show for it in a game it should win.

Purdue 68, Penn State 56

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