Lamar Stevens scored 25 points and Mike Watkins got his 26th career double-double as Penn State beat Illinois 83-76 on Saturday.

“I’m just so proud of Mike,” said Penn State coach Pat Chambers. “He’s had to deal with some personal issues lately, and he really came through for us today. We’re going to need that from him down the road.”

Josh Reaves added 14 points for Penn State (11-16, 3-12 Big Ten Conference).

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) has a shot knocked away by Penn State' guard Myles Dread (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) has a shot knocked away by Penn State’ guard Myles Dread (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois (10-17, 6-10) with 18 points, all of them coming in the second half. Andres Feliz added 17 points for the Illini.

“My guys really stuck to the game plan,” Chambers said. “We answered some of their runs. It’s a challenge to prepare for a team like Illinois, which plays like no other. I think they are one of the best teams in the league right now. Today, we both played some good basketball.”

THE BIG PICTURE

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) shoots between Penn State guards Jamari Wheeler (5) and Rasir Bolton (13) during the first half of thanir NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) shoots between Penn State guards Jamari Wheeler (5) and Rasir Bolton (13) during the first half of thanir NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

The Nittany Lions played Illinois in Champaign for the third straight time, going back to the 2016-17 season. Penn State won the previous two games. Illinois plays three of its next four games at home to close out the season.

Illinois had won four of its last five games coming into Saturday’s game, losing to No. 22 Wisconsin 64-58 in Madison.

For the first time in its history, Illinois has two freshmen serving as its top-two leading scorers, Dosunmu (15 points per game) and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (13.9).

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Penn State in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Penn State in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

LOT OF DOG

Watkins, who scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, also blocked five shots and moved into second place all-time for blocked shots at Penn State.

“Watkins and Stevens, they’re just unrelenting,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “They’re really, really good. They got a lot of dog in them, and I mean that in a good way.”

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) looks to shoot as Penn State' forward Mike Watkins (24) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) looks to shoot as Penn State’ forward Mike Watkins (24) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

NICE TRY

The game was intense and included a second-half technical foul on Underwood, who kicked a chair into the scoring table following a call he disagreed with.

Illinois went on a 9-0 run when trailing by 15 shortly after the technical and pulled within five points, 61-56.

Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) shoots as Penn State' forward Mike Watkins (24) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) shoots as Penn State’ forward Mike Watkins (24) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

“Well, last time I didn’t get too far tossing my coat,” Underwood said, referring to a technical foul he received earlier this season. “So this time I figured, what the hell, I’ll kick the scoring table. Guess I should have done it ten minutes earlier.”

HOT AND COLD

The Nittany Lions were 26 of 53 (49 percent) from the field, while Illinois was 26 of 66 (39 percent).

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, right, and Penn State' guard Jamari Wheeler (5) vie for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, right, and Penn State’ guard Jamari Wheeler (5) vie for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

Both teams struggled defensively in the first half, while the Illini’s offense went cold for long stretches. Illinois shot only 35 percent from the field in the first half, while Penn State shot 50 percent.

The Nittany Lions led 39-32 at the half.

UP NEXT

Penn State' forward Mike Watkins (24) and Illinois guard Alan Griffin (0) vie for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ forward Mike Watkins (24) and Illinois guard Alan Griffin (0) vie for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

Penn State: Hosts Maryland on Wednesday.

Illinois: Plays at No. 12 Purdue on Wednesday

___

Penn State guard Josh Reaves (23) shoots as Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1)  defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State guard Josh Reaves (23) shoots as Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State' forward John Harrar (21) and Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) battle for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ forward John Harrar (21) and Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) battle for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State' forward Lamar Stevens (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinoise in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ forward Lamar Stevens (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinoise in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State' guard Jamari Wheeler (5) shoots against Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ guard Jamari Wheeler (5) shoots against Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State forward Lamar Stevens, left, and Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) reach for the ball  during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State forward Lamar Stevens, left, and Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) reach for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State' guard Jamari Wheeler (5) runs into the defense of Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ guard Jamari Wheeler (5) runs into the defense of Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood gives a piece of his mind to a referee as asst. coach Ron Coleman listens during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Penn State in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood gives a piece of his mind to a referee as asst. coach Ron Coleman listens during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Penn State in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State  forward Mike Watkins (24) and guard Myles Dread (2) defend against Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State forward Mike Watkins (24) and guard Myles Dread (2) defend against Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) drives against Penn State' guard Myles Dread (2)during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Illinois guard Andres Feliz (10) drives against Penn State’ guard Myles Dread (2)during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State guard Rasir Bolton (13) shoots over Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State guard Rasir Bolton (13) shoots over Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State' guard Jamari Wheeler (5) looks to shoot as Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) and Illinois forward Kipper Nichols (2) defend during the second half  of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Penn State’ guard Jamari Wheeler (5) looks to shoot as Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) and Illinois forward Kipper Nichols (2) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)

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