In the first half of Penn State’s 85-60 loss to Akron in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off last November, Penn State guard Tim Frazier saw his senior season come to an end due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Without their starting point guard the Nittany Lions struggled for much of the 2012-13 campaign, winning just ten games and finishing last in the Big Ten (2-16).
On Saturday Frazier played in his first regular season game since the injury and despite some struggles from the field the fifth-year season posted his first double-double since February 11, 2012, accounting for 25 points, ten rebounds and four assists in Penn State’s 74-62 victory over Wagner. Frazier made just six of his sixteen shots from the field but made up for that with a solid outing at the charity stripe, making 12 of 17 free throws. And Frazier wasn’t the only Nittany Lion to finish with a double-double, as fellow guard D.J. Newbill tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Penn State outscored Wagner by ten points at the foul line (30-20), a margin that helped make up for the Seahawks scoring 32 points in the paint. If Penn State is to improve on its conference (and overall) win total of a season ago, the interior play has to get better. But it certainly helps head coach Patrick Chambers that he’s got his leader back on the floor.
With Frazier back in the fold the Nittany Lions should improve when it comes to taking care of the basketball, as last season they ranked tenth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio. And the hope at Penn State is that the experienced tandem of Frazier and Newbill will open things up for their teammates and make the Lions a tougher group to corral.
“Obviously it’s exciting to have that dynamic duo to put a Penn State jersey on this year. I think D.J. learned so much about the point guard position in general. And now you have two guys that can make plays for teammates,” Chambers said at Big Ten Media Day last month.
“You can’t just focus on one or the other. You’ve got to focus on both those guys. There’s gotta be a lot of space on the floor for other guys to step up and make plays.”