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Illinois 75, Penn State 55: Illini Roll After Ugly First Half And Punchy Second Half

A close, ugly game turned into a blowout after Penn State's D.J. Newbill was ejected

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This game had the brick layers, turnovers, and all other ingredients necessary for your typical Illinois-Penn State barn burner, but the added dose of D.J. Newbill punches changed the whole forecast.

Illinois led Penn State, 52-43, with 8:38 remaining in the second half, but the lead was hardly comfortable. Illinois' game looked better in the second half, although not as considerably as it should have been given the horrendous first half. Here were the numbers:

28 SCORE 26
8-for-27 (29 percent) FG 8-for-28 (28 percent)
4-for-13 (31 percent) 3FG 2-for-9 (22 percent)
17 (6 offensive) REBOUNDS 14 (5 offensive)

Still, things looked better. Kendrick Nunn had just finished a pretty layup, driving around screeners and to the hoop, stretching the Illini lead to nine points. Five seconds later, he brewed up a shitstorm. On his way down the floor, Nunn bumped into Penn State guard D.J. Newbill. Newbill responded by turning around and shove-punching Nunn in the back of the head.


Nunn stepped to Newbill with a mean mug. Newbill got ejected. Tensions flared and parties were seperated. John Groce screamed and had to be physically restrained. I don't know who he was going to fight, but he would have won, handedly and to a standing ovation.

When the game started again, the feel flipped from an ugly grinder to an Illini route. A combination of the fight's adrenaline boost and no Newbill to deal with boosted Illinois to an easy 20-point win.


- When there's a fight, you only want to talk about the fight, and how it went down. Regarding who was at fault, Twitter believably was split down Penn State and Illinois party lines. You can watch the video and decide for yourself, but I think the answer is this: Nunn bumped into Newbill, and he probably shouldn't have. Newbill aggressively gave Nunn a shot to the back of the head, and he definitely shouldn't have. If Nunn would have punched him back, they'd get the same penalty. And that's telling.


- Jon Ekey looked like a damn fine ball player today, and his shooting stroke looked a bit smoother than normal.

- Rayvonte Rice again led the team, scoring 15 points. Four players scored in double digits, including Tracy Abrams (12 points), who didn't score in the first half.

- Joseph Bertrand does it all.

- Aaron Jordan. Committed. Today. He must love fighting.

- Expect to be ranked on Monday.