STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - It took Penn State 33 days to put together a 40-minute game and Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers loved every minute of it.
D.J. Newbill scored 23 points and Brandon Taylor 16 to lead Penn State to a 79-51 win over Rutgers on Saturday for its first Big Ten Conference victory of the season and first win since Dec. 22 after starting the season 12-1.
The Nittany Lions (13-7, 1-6 Big Ten), losers of six straight games, never trailed after taking a 16-15 lead with just over 10 minutes to play in the opening half. Their season-high 18 assists complemented 29-of-57 shooting.
The 28-point spread was Penn State’s largest margin of victory since December 2011 against Mount St. Mary’s (29) and largest in conference play since 1998 against Northwestern (38).
“I felt like the last four games were so close,” Chambers said. “I thought we’ve been really close to getting 40 minutes and we finally got there.”
Shep Garner added 13 points for Penn State, including three 3-pointers. Penn State shot 10 of 20 from 3-point range and its first 12 points of the game were on 3-pointers.
Penn State was shooting just 30 percent from 3-point range but Chambers said he wanted his players to keep firing.
“That’s the only way we’re going to be successful,” he said. “I want kids to put themselves out there, take big shots, make big shots, get to the free-throw line. That’s the way you have to play.”
Rutgers (10-11, 2-6) did not play that way. The Scarlet Knights were led by 19 points from Kadeem Jack, the only Rutgers player in double figures.
Rutgers shot just 10 of 27 in the second half after going 11 of 21 in the first half. The Knights were 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t give them a great tussle,” Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. “We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half and throughout the game. We didn’t handle anything well today.”
Penn State forced 16 Rutgers turnovers while committing just nine of its own, and also owned a 32-28 edge in rebounding.
Jordan could only search for positives.
“Sometimes there’s a silver lining,” he said. “I liked the way Kadeem behaved, I liked the way Myles (Mack) behaved. Sometimes that means a lot when you’re getting your tail kicked.
“Are you playing in a first-class manner? Are you classy about competing? Are you doing things right or are you being greedy and undisciplined?”
Penn State came out firing to start the second half with 3-pointers from Taylor and Garner. Garner’s 3 with just over a minute gone in the half put Penn State ahead 47-28 and gave the Nittany Lions more points than they scored in their 50-46 loss at Rutgers on Jan. 3.
Penn State continued its second-half fireworks, scoring 19 points in the opening 7:14 and limiting Rutgers to 3-of-11 shooting and gathering three Scarlet Knights turnovers in that span.
“It was definitely a good feeling to finally put together a 40-minute game,” Newbill said. “We played smart, we played physical and played Penn State basketball, which we haven’t done all year until today.”
Rutgers: Starter Junior Etou did not make the trip Saturday; coach Eddie Jordan said he did not “live up to team expectations.” . Rutgers guard Mike Williams injured his left ankle and left the game with 6:12 to play. . Jordan was 2-0 against Penn State when he played collegiately for the Scarlet Knights.
Penn State: Brandon Taylor left the game with 9:45 remaining because of an injury to his right knee. Penn State coach Patrick Chambers thought the injury was caused by a knee-on-knee collision; a school spokesman called it a mild sprain. . Penn State’s six-game losing streak to open conference play fell far short of other seasons. The Lions lost 14 straight in 2012-13, 12 in 2009-10 and 13 in 2006-07.
HOLDING THE ADVANTAGE
Prior to Rutgers joining the Big Ten, Northwestern was the only conference school against which Penn State owned a lead in the series. Penn State leads the series with Rutgers 38-30; the two teams played regularly when they were in the Atlantic 10 but have played just three times since 1991.
Rutgers is at home against Michigan State on Tuesday.
Penn State faces Minnesota at home on Wednesday.
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