For the second game in a row, Penn State defeats a Big Ten rival at home, but falls short of free Big Macs. The Penn State men’s basketball team won their second consecutive game Thursday night against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Bryce Jordan Center, 69-64.
The Nittany Lion’s picked up momentum early on in the first half with eight players putting points on the board, the most since Penn State faced Minnesota on January, 15th.
Big playmakers in the first half were junior guard Tim Frazier, Penn State’s leading scorer with 18 points, and freshman forward Jon Graham. Within minutes after tip off, Frazier made 2 free throws and a jumper while also making and steal and rebound.
Graham followed Frazier's 4 points with his second bucket of the night, giving Penn State an 8-3 lead with 16:45 left in the first half. Penn State led Iowa 38-24 at the end of the half.
Only 6,794 fans attended Thursday night’s game against the Hawkeyes, partially due to the game being held on the eve of THON, Penn State’s 46-hour Dance Marathon also held at the Bryce Jordan Center. While many students wanted to go home and rest up for the weekend, Nittany Nation came loud and proud to cheer on their team and coach.
Penn State sophomore Kelly Brown, the Philanthropy Chair for Nittany Nation, said McDonald’s Big Macs were a major incentive for fan’s to attend the 8:00 p.m. tip off.
“I know a lot of people weren’t planning on coming out tonight because of THON,” Brown said, “but after Chambers bought everyone Big Macs yesterday, they felt like they had to come out and support him.”
Wednesday afternoon, coach Chambers handed out free Big Mac’s at the McDonald’s on College Ave. to fans with a ticket stub from Saturday’s game. The hamburgers were paid for by coach Chambers himself to make up for not running up the score during their last home game against Nebraska. Penn State’s 67-51 victory over the Huskers fell short of two things; a Tim Frazier assist to give him his first triple-double, and a 3-pointer to score the 70 points needed for fans to receive free Big Macs.
“A lot of coaches tend to hide behind their teams and their programs, but it’s great to see him come out and show that he cares about the students too,” said Matt Yeager, a sophomore and member of Nittany Nation.
Yeager, along with a few other members of Nittany Nation, decided to do more than just show up to show their appreciation. In the student section, usually home to giant cardboard cut outs of coach Chambers, Betty White, and Rebecca Black, Yeager and his friends held giant Big Macs and called themselves the “Burger Brigade.”
“We really liked [Chambers’] gesture yesterday, handing out free burgers, so we thought we would show our support by bringing burger cut-outs for him to let him know we’re rooting for him,” said Andrew Polonus, a member of the Burger Brigade.
The Burger Brigade became a crucial part of Nittany Nation late in the second half when Iowa started to capitalize off of Penn State’s slacking defense. Iowa’s lead scorer, 6-foot-5 guard Matt Gatens, scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half. With 1:45 left in the game and a score of 63-61, Penn State’s 6-4 guard Jermaine Marshall hit a 3-pointer, igniting the crowd’s energy.
With 00:24 remaining, Jon Graham made 2 free throws, setting a career high of 10 points and shot 100 percent from the free-throw line. With a score of 68-63, the student section turned to look at the Burger Brigade and see the oversized hamburgers bob up and down over the sea of blue and white. They were only 2 points away from free Big Macs and he pressure was on.
With a score of 68-64 with only 6.9 seconds remaining, The Nittany Lion’ only senior, 6-5 guard Cameron Woodyard, stepped up to the free-throw line. The next two shots would determine the fast-food fate of the hungry student section.
The first shot went in and the Burger Brigade became ecstatic, but unfortunately, Woodyard did not make the second shot, leaving the students once again, deprived of free hamburgers.
While one shot was not enough for a Big Mac, it was enough for a win, bringing Penn State’s record to 12-15 overall, 4-10 in the Big Ten Conference and Iowa 13-13, 5-8.
Hype this up on BallHyped. Photos credited to Mark Selders, via GoPSUSports.com.