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Penn State upsets No. 12 Illinois 90-89 with last-minute free throws

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Zach Hicks made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer with three seconds left to give Penn State a 90-89 victory over No. 12 Illinois on Wednesday night.

Nick Kern Jr. scored a career-high 22 points, and Hicks and Qudus Wahab added 13 apiece to help Penn State (13-14, 7-9 Big Ten) overcome a 14-point deficit in the second half. The Nittany Lions snapped a three-game losing streak.

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 19 of his 35 points in the second half for Illinois (19-7, 10-5). Marcus Domask added 15 points.

After struggling to keep up with Penn State's speedy offense to start, the Illini settled down midway through the first half and controlled play for much of the second, but couldn't hold on to multiple double-digit leads.

Illinois led 48-41 at halftime and Shannon scored six points in the first 3:59 of the second to give the Illini their biggest lead of the night 61-47.

Boosted by 13 straight points from Kern, Penn State cut the deficit to 10 with 12:28 to play. Jameel Brown and Hicks team for five 3-pointers over the final 12:03, with Brown cutting to four with 35 seconds left. Puff Johnson's jumper made it 87-89.

Penn State got a rebound after a pair of missed free throws from Colemen Hawkins to set up Hicks' last try from deep.


Illinois: After losing twice in the regular season and getting bounced from the Big Ten Tournament by the then-Micah Shrewsberry led Nittany Lions last season, the Illini couldn't deal with Penn State's speed and pressure late. They'll need at least another game for their fifth consecutive 20-win season under coach Brad Underwood.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions were able to find their rhythm in spurts and finally sustained it over the final 10 minutes. Kern showed off his scoring ability with a big second half and the Nittany Lions will need more of that from him after leading scorer Kanye Clary was booted off the team this month.


Illinois: Hosts Iowa on Saturday.

Penn State: Hosts Indiana on Saturday.


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