UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Penn State coach Patrick Chambers doesn’t want to have to rely on Tim Frazier every game.
But he sure needed the Nittany Lions’ star on Sunday.
Frazier accounted for more than half of Penn State’s offense, scoring 27 points as Penn State overcame a sluggish first half to beat South Florida 53-49 in the Hall of Fame Tip-off tournament.
Jermaine Marshall added 11 points for Penn State (4-1), which had been blown out by Kentucky, 85-47, in the opening game of the tournament Saturday.
“These guys got to step up for (Frazier),” said Chambers. “He’s going to need help. I thought Jermaine did a great job. I had a gut feeling about Jermaine today. I thought he did some good things. He hit some good shots; he had some big steals. He played really well. You can’t rely on Tim every game.”
Blake Nash had 14 points and Toarlyn Fitzpatick 11 for South Florida (3-2), which lost forward Augustus Gilchrist to a shoulder injury in the first half.
South Florida led by six points in the second half before Penn State used a 12-1 run, keyed by back-to-back layups from Frazier, and hung on.
Marshall’s 3-pointer tied it at 43 with just under five minutes to play and Frazier’s back-to-back layups, the second coming after he stole the ball in the backcourt, gave Penn State a 47-44 lead.
Penn State was up 50-44, before Nash hit a 3-pointer for the Bulls.
But Frazier hit a driving layup to extend the lead back to five.
A layup by Nash made it 53-49 with 22 seconds left and the Bulls missed three 3-pointers in the final seconds.
The teams went into halftime tied at 17 after poor shooting performances on both sides. South Florida hit just 27 percent of its shots from the floor (4 of 15). But Penn State was worse, making just 23 percent from the floor (5 of 22). The Nittany Lions made just 1 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc.
“Coach always preaches to play with great confidence throughout the whole game,” Frazier said. “We were kind of shaky the first 20 minutes. We came in halftime and he said to play with no fear, and I think we all came out and played like that.”
The Lions shot 52 percent in the second half (12 of 23). South Florida shot 38.5 percent after intermission and hit just 14 of 41 shots in the game.
South Florida came into the weekend at 3-0, but lost by two points in overtime to Old Dominion Saturday.
“Tough, tough weekend for us,” said South Florida coach Stan Heath. “Two tough ball games. In both, with 10 minutes left, we were leading and we didn’t finish. We have to become a team that closes better.”
Gilchrist, who came in averaging over 14 points for the Bulls, was 0-for-4 in the half before leaving the game with a shoulder injury after taking a hard foul with just over five minutes to play in the half.
He missed his first foul shot then left the game and went to the locker room. He came back after halftime with an ice bag on his shoulder.
“We’ll know a little bit more about Gilchrist when we get home,” Heath said.
Frazier, who came in averaging almost 21 points and nine assists, had eight of the Lions’ 17 points at intermission.
Penn State was blown out Saturday by Kentucky, 85-47. It was the Nittany Lions worst loss since 2004.
Penn State is now 2-3 against the Bulls, a team it had not played since 1990.
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