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January 29, 2014

Nittany Lions look to build on first win tonight

Patrick Chambers wanted to give his team the break it deserved.

Bumps and bruises galore for every team in the Big Ten at this point in the season, the Nittany Lions' five-day breather between their first win against Nebraska last Thursday and their game at Ohio State Wednesday night, Chambers hit the road to recruit and let his players rest for a couple of days in the meantime.

That wasn't the only break he wanted to give them, though.

Hammering home his personal messages nearly every day for months now dating back to the Nittany Lions' Eurotrip in August, Chambers offered a treaty of silence before entering the meat of the Big Ten schedule. Will it work? Tuesday afternoon at his weekly press conference before his Nittany Lions (10-10 overall, 1-6 Big Ten) left for Columbus, Chambers was certainly hopeful.

"I thought it was valuable time for them, and for me to go silent for a couple of days. I think that always helps. The voice can wear you down," Chambers said, smiling. "But I thought it was great because we came back and Sunday's practice was very good and Monday's practice was very good, and then we're practicing there tonight."

Of course, the challenges don't end with Penn State's first win in seven games.

Taking on the No. 24-ranked Buckeyes at Value City Arena, the Nittany Lions are running up against a team that at one point was ranked Top Five nationally, only to drop four games in-conference out of its last five.

Back for Penn State after catching a bug last week will be junior small forward Ross Travis, but the Buckeyes feature one of the better guard/forward combos in the Big Ten in Aaron Craft (9.4 ppg, 4.9 apt) and LaQuinton Ross (14.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), respectively.

"Ohio State is more of a driving team with Craft and (Shannon) Scott and (Lenzelle) Smith has found his rhythm and Ross is really playing good basketball," Chambers said. "Those two especially are your three-point shooters, but they want to drive the ball, they'll run a couple of cuts, but they want to get in the paint and Craft wants to make plays and Scott wants to make plays and so we gotta do a good job of keeping them out of the paint and then get the shooters."

To earn a win Wednesday night, Penn State will need to be at its best, having not beaten the Buckeyes since a 64-47 win at the Bryce Jordan Center back in January 2004, a total of 17-straight for Ohio State.

According to Chambers, the recent history between the two teams has absolutely no bearing on what takes place tonight.

"It's not important. They're a different team, we're a different team, we're at a different stage in our season, they're at a different stage in their season, and my job is to focus on us and what we can do better to compete at a high level," he said. "And we're doing that. We're competing. We don't see the results in the record, but we're competing.

"I feel good about this team, I feel good about where we are, we need to continue on this path that we're on and focus on us. If we get caught up and worried about Ohio State's beat us 17 straight times, if it's a close game with four minutes to go, that's going to pop in our head. It's only human nature, and we can't worry about that. We gotta worry about what we can control: our attitude, our energy, our effort, competing, and that's what I'm trying to focus on with these guys right now."

Tip is at 7:01 p.m. and the game will air on the BTN.

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