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updated: 1/4/2014 4:05 PM

Illinois pounds Penn State 75-55

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  • Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) drives past Penn State's Tim Frazier during an NCAA college basketball game at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

      Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (24) drives past Penn State's Tim Frazier during an NCAA college basketball game at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

 
Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN -- Rayvonte Rice scored 15 points to lead four Illinois players in double figures as the Illini defeated Penn State 75-55 on Saturday.

Illinois (13-2, 2-0) remained in a first-place tie in the Big Ten following a pair of home wins. Penn State (9-6, 0-2) has dropped five of eight after a 6-1 start.

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Penn State's D.J. Newbill was ejected with 8:38 to play after a retaliatory push to the back of Illinois freshman Kendrick Nunn's head. Newbill, in a virtual dead-heat with Illinois' Rice for the Big Ten scoring lead entering the game, scored just seven on 2-of-8 shooting.

Penn State's John Johnson led all scorers with 18. The junior was appearing in just his third game for the Nittany Lions after transferring from Pittsburgh.

Joseph Bertrand and John Ekey, fifth-year seniors, each scored 11 for Illinois. Tracy Abrams had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists despite a scoreless first half, which closed with Illinois ahead 28-26.

Illinois scored three points on four of its first six second-half possessions to build a 40-28 lead. Penn State got within seven on three occasions, the last just before Newbill's ejection. Illinois scored 9 of the next 12 following the technical and was not threatened.

Both teams return to action on Wednesday. Penn State is host to Minnesota and Illinois is at No. 4 Wisconsin.

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