Stevens scores 25 to lead Penn State past Illinois 83-76
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) _ Lamar Stevens scored 25 points and Mike Watkins got his 26th career double-double as Penn State beat Illinois 83-76 on Saturday.
Josh Reaves added 14 points for Penn State (11-16, 3-12 Big Ten Conference).
Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois (10-17, 6-10) with 18 points, all of them coming in the second half. Andres Feliz added 17 points for the Illini.
Watkins, who scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, also blocked five shots and moved into second place all-time for blocked shots at Penn State.
The game was intense and included a second-half technical foul on Illinois coach Brad Underwood, who kicked a chair following a call he disagreed with. Illinois went on a 7-3 run following the technical.
The Nittany Lions were 26 of 53 (49 percent) from the field, while Illinois was 26 of 66 (39 percent).
Both teams struggled defensively in the first half, while the Illini’s offense went cold for long stretches. Illinois shot only 35 percent from the field in the first half, while Penn State shot 50 percent.
The Nittany Lions led 39-32 at the half.
THE BIG PICTURE
The Nittany Lions played Illinois in Champaign for the third straight time, going back to the 2016-17 season. Penn State won the previous two games. Illinois plays three of its next four games at home to close out the season.
Illinois had won four of its last five games coming into Saturday’s game, losing to No. 22 Wisconsin 64-58 in Madison.
For the first time in its history, Illinois has two freshmen serving as its top-two leading scorers, Dosunmu (15 points per game) and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (13.9).
Penn State: Hosts Maryland on Wednesday.
Illinois: Plays at No. 12 Purdue on Wednesday.