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February 5, 2013To escape a losing streak, sometimes a struggling team simply needs a little luck to overcome an enormous amount of negativity that can build throughout the streak.
Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, the Penn State men's basketball team got exactly that against a young and inexperienced Purdue team struggling to find its footing in the Big Ten this season.
Coughing up 10 turnovers, shooting just 62 percent from the free throw line and missing all 10 of their 3-point attempts, the Boilermakers fell behind as the Nittany Lions took advantage of a 17-4 run through the heart of the first half, building a nine point lead in the process.
Still, the NIttany Lions' biggest problem against Big Ten opponents - scoring - once again left the still-fighting team at a loss. In all, Penn State men's basketball team lost for the tenth time in ten games Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, this time, 58-49, against Purdue.
"Last four minutes of the first half, first four minutes of the second half," Chambers said. "We played great for 32 minutes. We had a couple great looks. They just didn't fall. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way."
Certainly, the Nittany Lions are enduring their toughest stretch of Chambers' short year and a half tenure.
The loss sent the Nittany Lions to 0-10 in the Big Ten and now just 8-14 overall for the season as Purdue improved to 5-5 in the conference, 12-11 overall.
"It's real simple. When you go through adversity and challenges when you're losing, it's really easy to start pointing fingers and not stick together," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "You gotta get each others' backs. When times get tough, you gotta get together even more.
"I always talk about foxhole mentality. Meaning, get your teammates back. I was just trying to teach them that we have to stick together through thick and thin. I think they responded and said, we've got you."
The Boilermakers, paced by 16 points from point guard Ronnie Johnson and a pair of double-double efforts by big men A.J. Hammons (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Donnie Hale (10 points, 10 rebounds).
"I thought in the second half, Ronnie Johnson had a really good stretch where he was attacking off the bounce," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. "We really wanted to establish (Hammons) down low and go after their big guys. We thought he did a good job of keeping his composure against their bigs."
Even with the Nittany Lions' poor shooting effort (30.6 percent from the floor, 10 percent on 2 of 20 shooting from 3-point range) opportunities for a comeback still existed for Penn State late into the game.
Though big men Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak fouled out of the game in succession with less than 5 minutes to play, trailing 52-47, a missed Nick Colella 3-point attempt at the 2 minute, 47 second mark, quickly followed by a Terone Johnson layup on the other end, put the NIttany Lions down 7 points, which they never recovered from.
Now, sophomore guard D.J. Newbill and company must travel to Nebraska for a Saturday evening matchup.
According to Newbill, he and his teammates are simply remaining positive while counting to pursue their first win of the conference season.
"Every game is tough. Every loss is even tougher," Newbill said. "Moving forward, we just have to keep getting better every day. Our goal is to be the best team we can be at the end of the season.
"We're working so hard, we feel like we deserve a win and soon, we feel like we're going to get one."
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