No. 20 Penn State (12-2, 2-2 Big Ten) had its five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday in Piscataway, falling to Rutgers 72-61. The Scarlet Knights (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten) showed that they too belong in the NCAA Tournament conversation, and that this conference slate will be daunting just about every night. Rutgers is off to its first 12-3 start since a Final Four season in 1976.
Myreon Jones was one of the few bright spots for Penn State, finishing with 21 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Ron Harper Jr. scored 22 points, including a 12-of-12 performance from the free throw line for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights took 29 free throws, while Penn State attempted just 13.
Mike Watkins led the way for Penn State in the first half as the Nittany Lions dealt with a sea of foul trouble. The big man had 16 of his 17 total points in the half and did not miss a shot, which made up for Lamar Stevens failing to score. Penn State ultimately managed to build a 33-28 lead at the break.
Stevens came alive in the second half, scoring all 12 of his points after the intermission. It was he and Jones that kept Penn State in the game, with the latter in particular carrying the team over one stretch in which he scored 10 straight points on his own.
Ultimately, that was not enough, and Rutgers blew the game open in the final five minutes, including a stretch in which they went on a 14-1 scoring run. For Penn State, the night was defined by foul trouble and cold shooting. The 20 missed three point attempts and 16 fewer free throw attempts than Rutgers are two of the biggest reasons they came up short in this one.
Penn State will look to bounce back Saturday with a home tilt against Wisconsin (9-5, 2-1 Big Ten). The Badgers also lost a road game against Rutgers, falling 72-65 four weeks ago. This game at the Bryce Jordan Center will be at 2:15 p.m. ET, with Big Ten Network handling the television broadcast.