Wednesday's nation roundup: Penn State ousts Nebraska

Associated Press
Penn State's D.J. Newbill  goes up for a shot in the second half.

Chicago — D.J. Newbill sees the Big Ten tournament as a shot at redemption for Penn State. It was nearly the stage for a big collapse, too.

Newbill scored 26 points, Shep Garner added 19 and Penn State hung on to beat Nebraska, 68-65, Wednesday in the Big Ten tournament opener.

The 13th-seeded Nittany Lions (17-15) advanced in the tournament for the first time since a run to the final in 2011, despite letting a 16-point lead in the second half dwindle to one.

They came away with their second straight win after dropping six in a row when Shavon Shields missed a 3-point try for 12th-seeded Nebraska (13-18) at the buzzer.

Penn State will play No. 5 seed Iowa today.

"We're disappointed in how we finished in Big Ten play," Newbill said. "We've got another opportunity to come out here and prove to ourselves and prove to everybody we're better than what we showed."

Garner hit five 3-pointers. Newbill nailed four from long range and keyed a 14-1 run early in the second half that stretched the lead from three to 16. Penn State also blocked a tournament-record 16 shots.

The loss was the ninth straight for Nebraska, which got 29 points from Terran Petteway. Shields scored 20 and grabbed 10 rebounds. But after making the NCAA Tournament last season, the Cornhuskers are on the outside looking in.

"As excited as I was last year is as disappointed as I am this year," coach Tim Miles said. "And I talked a lot of trash on the golf course last year so I was pretty pumped up."

He believes that the program is headed in the right direction, that the incoming recruits will provide a big lift. But enduring a run like this has not been easy.

Things got so bad that Miles actually banned his players from their plush locker room and forbade them from speaking to reporters following a 28-point blowout by Iowa last month.

"It wears on you," Miles said. "You go to the shopping center with your head down, the grocery store with your head down, and hope you don't run into everybody and have to regurgitate what you're going through."

Nebraska was within 63-62 after Shields hit two free throws with 3:03 left. Newbill then scored on a layup for Penn State and Ross Travis hit a free throw to make it a four-point game with 2:18 remaining.

Petteway hit a free throw and added two more with 42.7 seconds left after being fouled on a drive, making it 66-65.

Newbill missed a floater with about eight seconds left, setting off a scramble and a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing to Penn State.

Geno Thorpe caught the inbounds and hit two free throws to make it a three-point game with 4.2 seconds remaining. The Nittany Lions hung on when Shields' pull-up 3 from the right wing hit the front of the rim.

Penn State looked like it was ready to run away with this one after mounting a 14-1 run early in the second and breaking open a 37-34 game.

Newbill scored eight during that stretch and wrapped two 3-pointers around a free throw by Nebraska's Moses Abraham.

More Big Ten

Minnesota 80, Rutgers 68: Joey King hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 to lead Minnesota.

The 11th-seeded Golden Gophers (18-14) broke open a tight game on a 22-8 spurt midway through the second half. King and Charles Buggs highlighted the blitz with three 3-pointers in a span of 53 seconds.

After King extended the lead to 43-38 at the seven-minute mark, Buggs buried another 3-pointer 18 seconds later. Rutgers' Junior Etou followed with a pair free throws, then King hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 49-40 advantage.

Carlos Morris had 16 points and Nate Mason 15 for Minnesota, which advances to face Ohio State tonight.

Kadeem Jack led Rutgers (10-22) with 18 points.

Top 25

No. 19 North Carolina 81, Boston College 63: Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige scored 17 each the Tar Heels (22-10), who played without starting forward Kennedy Meeks in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

North Carolina plays No. 14 Louisville today.

Aaron Brown scored 20 and Olivier Hanlan 18 to lead the Eagles (13-19).

Other games

Lafayette 65, American 63: Nick Lindner scored 25 and No. 4 seed Lafayette held off several second-half runs by American to win the Patriot League tournament title and the automatic NCAA bid.

Slam dunks

Nevada basketball coach David Carter has been fired after posting losing records four of the last five seasons. He went 98-97 overall.

... Kansas forward Perry Ellis practiced and coach Bill Self expects his leading scorer to be available for its first Big 12 tournament game, today against TCU.