STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Mike Watkins scored 15 points, grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and Penn State beat Rutgers 60-43 on Saturday.
Tony Carr led Penn State with 16 points and Josh Reaves added 15 for the Nittany Lions (15-8, 5-5 Big Ten), who took control just before halftime for their second straight win.
Issa Thiam scored 12 points for Rutgers (12-11, 2-8), which made just 31 percent of their field goals on 16-of-51 shooting, and have lost five of its last six games.
After nine lead changes in the opening 17 minutes, Penn State took the lead for good after Watkins hit a short jumper to spark a 7-0 run. Carr capped it with back-to-back baskets to give Penn State a 28-23 lead at half.
The Nittany Lions pulled away in the second with an opening 9-0 run and extended their lead to as many as 18 with 2:34 to play.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have played good defense this season, but they’re not helping themselves on the other end. Rutgers has shot better than 33 percent from the field just once over its last five games, entered the Bryce Jordan Center ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring and field goal percentage, and began this one 3 of 15 over the first 10 minutes.
Penn State: Coupled with the buzzer-beater at Ohio State, the win gives the Nittany Lions their first set of consecutive victories since winning three straight in December. They’re suddenly, with eight games left, just two conference wins away from equaling their best mark in coach Patrick Chambers’ seven-year tenure.
Rutgers travels to Illinois on Tuesday.
Penn State visits No. 6 Michigan State on Wednesday.
(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)