PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)Ron Harper Jr. had 22 points to help Rutgers beat No. 20 Penn State 72-61 on Tuesday night.
Rutgers took a lead at 34-33 on a second-chance basket by Myles Johnson with 17:53 to go. It was the Scarlet Knights first lead since 4-3, when Harper. hit two foul shots from a flagrant foul on Jamari Wheeler. As Rutgers was trying to inbound, Wheeler elbowed Harper in the chin.
The teams would trade a few of leads, before Rutgers (11-3, 3-1 Big Ten) took the lead for good on Montez Mathis’ 3-pointer. He had a layup on the ensuing possession to make it 54-51 with 6:45 to go.
Penn State (12-3, 2-2) led by as many as 10 in the first half, at 24-14. Rutgers would balloon it’s lead to 14 in the waning moments of the game.
Penn State was led by Myreon Jones’ 21 points, while Mike Watkins had 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Jacob Young added 13 points for Rutgers.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are off to their best start through 15 games since the undefeated regular season in 1975-76 that culminated in a Final Four, and with its second win over a Top 25 team following a Dec. 14 win over No. 22 Seton Hall, dreams of a postseason look attainable. Rutgers hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1990-91, and last made the NIT in 2006.
Penn State: While a five-game win streak was snapped, the Nittany Lions are still in good shape under ninth year coach Pat Chambers. sitting at .500 and in the middle of the pack of a loaded Big Ten Conference.
Penn State moved up one stop in this week’s poll from 21 to 20 but will need a win at Wisconsin. Rutgers meantime looks like a team that could start to garner some votes, especially if they go 2-0 this week with a win at Illinois.
Rutgers: At Illinois on Saturday
Penn State: Host Wisconsin on Saturday.