PSU MEN (10-20, 2-14 Big Ten)
You could go in a million different directions here (or 20), but a particular moment comes to mind. Coming into their January 19th date with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, both teams were 0-5 in conference play and looking to make a case that they were not the worst team in the Big Ten. Down 66-63 with 24 seconds left, Penn State was awarded four consecutive free throws due to a personal foul that occurred in immediate succession with a flagrant foul (a dubious call, for what it’s worth). Ross Travis missed his pair of free throws, followed by D.J. Newbill only hitting one of two. But all hope was not lost (not yet, at least)! Jermaine Marshall was able to regain possession of the ball and draw a foul with 16 seconds left, leaving him with two free throws to tie what was now only a two point game. Long story short, he bricked both free throws and Penn State never got any closer, eventually falling 68-64. They went 1-6 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds.
They were few and far between, quite frankly, but this wasn’t a tough decision. It has to be the win over Michigan, doesn’t it? I’m still kicking myself for not attending this game because I had a weird feeling this could be a good game. And sure enough, with some hot shooting from Newbill and perhaps Jermaine Marshall’s best game of the year (25 points, 6 rebounds, 8-17 FG and 6-10 3PT) Penn State was able to spring the upset. Even more impressively is the fact that PSU was down by double figures on multiple occasions during the game but would not back down from the 4th ranked college basketball team in the country. Coincidentally, this is the team PSU is matched up with for their first round game in the Big Ten Tournament.
It was tough to decipher between Newbill and Marshall here because they were very close in almost all of the major statistical categories. I will give the slight edge to Newbill, however, for a few reasons. Most importantly, Newbill was forced into a tough spot this year once Tim Frazier went down with a torn Achilles. D.J. didn’t have much prior experience with playing the point guard position, but he still took the responsibilities upon his shoulders and showed considerable growth as a player and leader throughout the season. He still managed to lead the team in scoring and assists while managing to keep his Assist/Turnover ratio over 1 (only impressive when you consider that he had to handle the ball much more than he was previously used to). You could make a strong argument for Jermaine Marshall as well, but after taking all of those factors into account I give the nod to Newbill.