Illinois couldn’t sustain the comeback.
The Illini put together a late rally against Penn State, but the damage was done on Saturday afternoon as Illinois fell 83-70 at State Farm Center.
After trailing by as many as 19 points in the second half, Illinois (14-12, 4-9 Big Ten) put together a 14-0 run to claw to within 62-57 with a little more than five minutes remaining.
Back-to-back three-point plays by Penn State (14-12, 6-7) pulled the Nittany Lions back ahead with an 11-point cushion.
The Illini were hoping to string together back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time this season after their win in Evanston against Northwestern on Tuesday. But Illinois was chasing the Nittany Lions after they broke out of a 27-27 tie near the end of the first half with a 14-2 run to head into the break.
The Nittany Lions started the second half by hitting 7 of their first 10 shots, and they shot 57 percent for the game, including 60 percent from the field in the second half.
Penn State – hardly a Big Ten offensive juggernaut – scored 11 points more than its average and shot about 14 percent better than its average.
Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 14 points. Point guard Te’Jon Lucas added 11 points with seven assists to just two turnovers.
Penn State was paced by 24 points from Payton Banks, while Lama Stevens added 21 points and Tony Carr 19 points.
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