LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Isaiah Roby scored like he never had before, but that was just the beginning of what he did for Nebraska in its school-record 20th straight home win.
Roby had a career-high 22 points and season highs of 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Cornhuskers beat Penn State 70-64 Thursday night.
“He was the one guy who had great energy, great body language and was aggressive the whole night through, and you could see it in his line,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
The Huskers (12-4, 2-3 Big Ten) bounced back from two straight road losses that knocked them out of the Top 25. The Nittany Lions (7-9, 0-5) lost their third straight.
Nebraska’s home win streak is the longest among power-five conference teams and fourth-longest overall. The Huskers broke the school record set by the 1965-66 and 1966-67 teams.
Roby scored six of Nebraska’s eight points after Penn State tied it 48-all. The 6-foot-8 forward drove to the basket to give the Huskers the lead, then he ran through a wide-open lane, caught a pass in stride from Isaac Copeland and put down a big dunk. He put back Glynn Watson Jr.’s missed 3-pointer to make it 56-51.
Roby was 8 for 9 from the field, made two 3-pointers, and was 4 for 5 on free throws while playing all but two minutes.
In the final minute he made a steal and blocked a shot to help hold off Penn State, which missed 9 of its final 11 shots.
Roby has had stretches of up-and-down play this season, though his game has steadily improved over the last month.
He and his coaches would love to see more of the prodigious production he had against the Nittany Lions.
“I’m a junior, I should be doing the type of stuff I’m doing now,” Roby said.
Watson, who had 19 points and three of the Huskers’ nine 3-pointers, made a huge play after Josh Reaves’ 3 pulled the Nittany Lions to 62-61.
Watson saved the ball from going out of bounds, gathered himself and shot a 3 that bounced three times off the rim to make it a four-point game with 2:15 left.
Reaves had a season-high 20 points, Mike Watson had 14 rebounds and the Lions held a 46-32 rebounding advantage, including 21-6 on the offensive end.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers was back on the bench. He was suspended for Sunday’s game, a turnover-filled 71-52 loss to Wisconsin, after shoving one of his players during a timeout in a loss at Michigan last week.
Penn State: Chambers said the Lions are improving even though the results aren’t showing it right now.
“I thought my team really competed and played hard, and that’s what I wanted to see after Sunday night. That was not Penn State basketball last Sunday,” he said. “We worked really hard in practice, and that showed tonight. I was really proud of the way we competed. Guys were dialed in. I thought we got better even thought we lost. They’re trying.”
Nebraska: The Huskers are a totally different team at home. They need to carry over their mojo to the road.
ROBY STEPPING UP
Roby is averaging 15 points over his last eight games, up from 8.3 over his first seven. A career 6.9-point scorer, he said coaches have encouraged him to look for shots more.
“Every season for me has been different,” he said. “I’ve had different roles on every team, and this team is a lot different than last year, so it took me a while.”
NO REST FOR STARTERS
Nebraska’s starters played the entire second half. Reserve Nana Akenten missed a couple days of practice because of illness, and reserve Amir Harris played four minutes in the first half after missing the last six games with mononucleosis. Miles wanted to play reserve Tanner Borchardt but said his assistants talked him out of it.
“Coach Miles believes in us to play a lot of minutes,” Watson said, “so that’s what we’ve got to do. We have to recover after.”
Penn State hosts No. 6 Michigan State on Sunday.
Nebraska visits No. 22 Indiana on Monday.