From tip-off, the Nittany Lions controlled the game, scoring 41 points in the first half compared to Illinois’ 29. Junior forward Payton Banks lead the team with a career-high 24 points to give the team their first win on the road against the Illini since the 2008-2009 season.
''Putting teams away has been our Achilles heel all year,'' Banks said. ''I feel like we executed it perfectly.''
While Penn State (14-12, 6-7 Big Ten) were able to score 83 points against Illinois (14-12, 4-9 Big Ten), the game was won on the defensive end. The Nittany Lions forced the Illini to a few scoring droughts throughout the first half and were able to end the first half on a 14-2 run.
In the second half, the Illini tried to close the scoring gap between the teams, cutting the Nittany Lion lead to just five points led by Malcolm Hill, but Penn State was able to preserve the lead and sweep the series against Illinois.
Penn State finished the game shooting 56.9% from the field and went 7 for 16 from beyond the arc. In addition to Banks’ career-high scoring game, freshman Tony Carr scored 19 points with three assists.
''It means a lot,'' Chambers said in the post-game presser. ''Every time you play Illinois it's a battle. We know what it's going to be.''
Up next for the Nittany Lions is another road game Tuesday night against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The game will air on the Big Ten Network at 9 p.m.