UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Rarely did it seem like there was a pattern. One possession Penn State's D.J. Newbill would handle the point for the Nittany Lions. The next it would be Jermaine Marshall.
But coach Patrick Chambers was watching them closely. If one appeared fatigued, he had the other take the point. He looked to see if Marshall had missed a rotation on defense, or if Newbill hadn't been down in his defensive stance and made his choice.
And in Penn State's 58-47 victory Saturday against Penn it worked as well as Chambers could hope. Marshall finished with 18 points and three assists. Newbill had 13 points and five assists. The two guards turned the ball over only three times. Using each player at point about half the time led to better performances for each.
"It helps tremendously," Newbill said. "I'm not a pure point guard and neither is Jermaine. We have to tag team."
Finding a point guard has been one of Penn State's biggest concerns since Tim Frazier injured his Achilles tendon Nov. 18. In the first two games since he went down, Newbill had primarily handled the point.
Against Bucknell, he had 10 points and four turnovers. And though he scored 22 against Boston College, Newbill turned the ball over six times.
In practices, Chambers has taken to splitting them up and inserting each one into differing situations. Though they each played about the same amount at point Saturday, Chambers said that wasn't his planned intention.
He said he doesn't want to look ahead as to what would be an ideal split for them as the season goes on, or if he'll end up using one for the great majority of the time.
"We're planning for the next game," Chambers said.
Penn State led, 31-22, at the half. Penn pulled to within four in the last few minutes, but Jon Graham responded with two quick baskets inside, helping put the game out of reach.
Those were Graham's only four points. Brandon Taylor had 11 and Ross Travis had seven. Penn State received significant scoring from players besides Marshall and Newbill, an improvement from the Boston College game Wednesday.
The only part of Saturday that really concerned Chambers had nothing to do with the play of his gap-filling point guards. He was worried about Marshall's health.
Late in the game, with Penn State comfortably ahead, Penn's Jamal Lewis intentionally fouled Marshall, pulling him to the ground. Chambers ran onto the court from the bench to help him up.
Penn State had received solid point guard play for a game, a goal it needs as the season goes on, and Chambers doesn't want injuries jeopardizing the position he's trying to fill.
"I try not to think about that," he said.
Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @mdent05.