Penn State upsets No. 4 Michigan for 1st Big Ten win of season

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Penn State upsets No. 4 Michigan for 1st Big Ten win of season

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers kept saying all winter that his team was close to winning a Big Ten game even as the league losses piled up.

Momentum finally bounced the Nittany Lions' way on Wednesday night against one of their toughest foes of the season.

Jermaine Marshall scored 25 points and hit a key layup with 1:06 left to help Penn State roar back from a 15-point deficit and upset No. 4 Michigan 84-78 for its first Big Ten victory in more than a year.

No wonder fans rushed the court in delight after the final buzzer.

"I was looking around. I wanted to see our team," Chambers said about the frenzy inside the Jordan Center. "I wanted to embrace it and be in that moment, because those moments don't come very often."

Penn State (9-18, 1-14) had lost 18 straight regular-season Big Ten games dating to last season. The team's previous conference win came on Feb. 16, 2012, a 69-64 victory over Iowa.

It was Penn State's first win over a top 5 team since defeating No. 5 North Carolina 82-74 in the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament, and the highest-ranked opponent that the Nittany Lions have beaten since moving to the Jordan Center in 1996.

Even Michigan coach John Beilein was impressed.

"I think what you saw tonight is why we all love college basketball," he said.

But this loss might hurt Michigan as it jockeys for seeding in the NCAA tournament. The Wolverines squandered a chance to pull into a second-place tie in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points for the Wolverines (23-5, 10-5). Trey Burke had 18 points and six assists, but also committed six turnovers.

Michigan was uncharacteristically sloppy with 15 turnovers in the game, six more than its season average.

Penn State pounced on the mistakes.

D.J. Newbill added 17 points for the Nittany Lions, who hit a season-high 10 3-pointers. Marshall scored 19 in the second half, including four 3s that whipped the hometown fans into a frenzy. But it was his twisting drive to the bucket late left that really hurt Michigan.

The ball teetered on the rim for a couple of seconds before dropping in, causing the Penn State partisans to let out a collective sigh of relief with their team up 81-78.

"It was a chip play that we run. ... Coach put the ball in my hand and he had trust in me," Marshall said. "Fortuantely that layup rode around the rim and went down."

That was not the kind of luck that the Nittany Lions have been used to, ever since leading scorer and point guard Tim Frazier went down with a left Achilles injury four games into the season.

They had to adjust on the fly, with combo guard Newbill sliding over to the point, and Marshall needing to assume more ball-handling duties. Chambers, a never-say-die cheerleader, convinced his team to keep fighting through the adversity.

"Tonight, it's a relief. All the hard work, practices and shootarounds paid off for us," Newbill said.

Michigan's Glenn Robinson III misfired on a 3 with 17 seconds left. Sasa Borovnjak (nine points) had a memorable Senior Night, hitting two foul shots with 15 seconds left to seal the win.

Ross Travis provided the muscle up front with 15 points and 12 boards as Penn State made the clutch plays down the stretch.

"They beat us fair and square, and the last 10 minutes they really outplayed us," Beilein said.

Two foul shots by Marshall gave Penn State its first lead since the first half, 76-74, with 3:55 left. The Jordan Center rocked as if it were a Michigan-Penn State football game across the street at Beaver Stadium.

It was all Penn State from there.

Chambers watched as Michigan fumbled away opportunities, like when Burke had a steal from Newbill but lost control.

"The ball finally bounced our way," Chambers said. "Trey Burke strips D.J. at halfcourt and kicks it out of bounds ... that's usually what we do."

Midway through the second half, Michigan controlled the lane with dunks and cuts to the bucket. Long-range shooting gave the Wolverines breathing room after Nik Stauskus (12 points, eight rebounds) and Hardaway hit 3s on back-to-back possessions to help build the short-lived 15-point lead after Penn State had drawn within 49-45.

The first half was a sign of things to come. After struggling from long range much of the year, Penn State went 5 of 10 from behind the arc and forced 10 turnovers to stay within 39-36 at halftime.

All five of Michigan's losses have come on the road in the Big Ten -- none worse than Wednesday night's defeat. Michigan finished February with a 3-4 record, heading into a showdown Sunday with No. 9 Michigan State.

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.

Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

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Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

A few hours before Villanova hosted Seton Hall on Monday night, head coach Jay Wright came home and talked to his wife, Patty.

“You know you’re No. 1?” she said.

Wright didn’t react much to the news, nor did the players on the team when they found out during the pregame meal a little bit later.

“It’s not really that big of a deal this time,” Wright said. “I think we were all much more concerned with Seton Hall.”

Being No. 1 may almost be old news at this point, but thoroughly dominating good teams at the Pavilion never gets stale for the Wildcats, who cruised to a 76-46 demolition of the Pirates on the same day they regained the top spot of the rankings after a week at No. 3 (see Instant Replay).

Senior Kris Jenkins sparked the win with 16 points, shooting 4 for 6 from the three-point line and 4 for 4 from the foul line — numbers he cared far more about than the No. 1 in front of Villanova.

“That’s just a number,” Jenkins said. “We focus on getting better each and every day. We can lose our next game and we won’t be No. 1.” 

Villanova reached the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time in the program’s illustrious history last season, a couple of months before winning the national title on an iconic buzzer-beater from Jenkins.

The Wildcats then spent five weeks at No. 1 this season before a 66-58 loss to Butler on Jan. 4 moved them out of the top spot — only briefly, as it turned out.

“Every time you do something first is exciting,” Wright said. “And then you learn from it. I think we learned a great lesson last year and I think it helped us this year. And we learned a lesson again when we went to Butler. So you keep learning from it, that’s what we really take from it.”

As the Wildcats said last season, the most important thing is finishing the season No. 1. And they certainly showed once again that they have the chops to repeat as national champs — a prospect that Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard called “pretty exciting” even after his team had its brains beaten in.

“That’s a tough team to play,” Willard said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. If you’re not clicking on all cylinders when you come here, that can happen.”

Willard went on to say that “if Josh Hart’s not the National Player of the Year, then there’s something wrong.” But against the Pirates, Hart had a modest 11 points as Villanova showed off its impressive balance with all seven players in Wright’s rotation finishing with at least eight points.

Afterwards, Wright credited his three seniors — Jenkins, Hart and Darryl Reynolds (eight points, nine rebounds) — for helping the team bounce back from a sub-optimal performance in Saturday’s 70-57 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m just really fortunate to have three guys who are experienced and have been successful but are really humble,” Wright said. “We looked at the film, told them St. John’s played harder than us, and we took care of it. I think our seniors set the tone.”

Saturday’s win wasn’t the only game at the Garden on Villanova’s mind. The last time the Wildcats played Seton Hall, they suffered a stinging defeat to the Pirates in the title game of the Big East Tournament. 

Jenkins, though, insisted, that rare loss didn’t offer any extra motivation. Neither did the fact that Villanova set a record with its 47th straight victory at the Pavilion. Or that Monday’s win was the program’s 1,700th of all time.

“Numbers are something that is becoming a challenge for us,” Wright admitted. “It’s a great challenge to have. Right now, it doesn’t really do anything for us. But trust me, at the end of the year, we take great pride in that. All it can do is distract us right now. We know we have to answer the questions and you guys do a great job. I usually learn the numbers from you guys. It’s just not gonna do anything for us right now.”

Wright may not always like talking about his team’s absurdly impressive accomplishments. But he certainly loves games like this one as the Wildcats dominated all phases, from start to finish.

Deadly long-range shooting? Tenacious defense? Creating turnovers and scoring off them? Big-time hustle plays and rebounds? Electrifying dunks? Villanova did it all Monday in front of a raucous section of students back from winter break and one spectator named Ben Simmons, who took in the game from a courtside seat and applauded with everyone else.

What’s it like coaching a game like that? Is it ever hard when your No. 1 team is up by 30?

“It’s not difficult at all,” Wright said with a laugh. “It’s enjoyable. Things are going well, so you’re enjoying yourself.”