UNIVERSITY PARK - The phrase "too soon" probably applies to the Penn State public address announcer yelling "down goes Frazier" each time Tim Frazier hit a 3-pointer Wednesday, considering that it was just 10 days ago that boxing great Joe Frazier died.
Still, it's tough not to get excited watching Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions' junior point guard who seems quite comfortable taking over the role of team leader from Talor Battle.
Frazier had a career-high 26 points and added 10 assists to lead Penn State to a 77-68 win over Long Island before 5,258 fans at Bryce Jordan Center.
"Tim was terrific," PSU coach Patrick Chambers said. "He was a great leader tonight. Took big shots, made big shots. ... He did everything you ask your point guard to do."
Frazier also hit three 3-pointers, each drawing the "down goes Frazier" comment.
"No, I didn't hear him say that, but I've been hearing that all my life," Frazier said before adding it's an "honor" to share a last name with the boxing legend.
The Lions (3-0) came in 23-1 all-time against Northeast Conference competition but got a scare from Long Island (0-3). The Blackbirds were the class of the NEC last year - going 27-6 overall and 16-2 in the league before reaching the NCAA Tournament and losing to North Carolina - and they have three starters back.
The game was tied at 36 at the half, and Long Island pulled out to a 60-56 lead with 8:20 to go.
"We told them how good this team was going into the game, and I thought our guys really respected this team," Chambers said.
"We were down four, that's where attitude comes in, that's where you have to handle adversity," the coach added.
Penn State scored five straight points and took a 61-60 lead on a 3-pointer by Billy Oliver. Up 63-62, Frazier drove the lane and kicked out to Matt Glover, who buried a 3-pointer for a four-point edge with 4:58 remaining.
"They showed me a little something," Chambers said of his team's play late. "They showed me some grit, they showed me some heart."
Oliver hit another big 3-pointer with 3:06 left to make it 72-64, and the Lions weren't threatened again. Oliver had nine points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
"Every shot you make adds to your confidence," said Oliver, who drew a lot of criticism last season and got off to a rough start shooting the ball this year. "It's a testament to the guys on the team and Coach to tell me keep shooting."
Cammeron Woodyard had 13 points for PSU, while Sasa Borovnjak had nine. Julian Boyd and Michael Culpo had 15 points apiece for LIU.
It was Frazier, though, who controlled the game. He's now averaging 20.7 points, way up from 6.3 a year ago.
"The kid's lightning," Blackbirds coach Jim Ferry said before later adding, "He's a one-man fast break, and he's a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to breaking teams down."
Speaking of wrecking crews, Penn State now draws No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Conn.
"That's a dog fight, and we've got to bring our 'A' game," Woodyard said.
The Lions have some confidence after their 3-0 start, but Hartford, Radford and LIU don't come close to stacking up to the Wildcats.
"I have no idea what Kentucky does," Chambers, who hasn't watched film on the Wildcats yet, said with a smile. "I know they're probably good."
That joke could qualify as understatement of the year.
"It's going to be a great game for us this weekend, a great opportunity," Frazier said.
Olasewere 1-9 7-10 9, Boyd 5-10 5-6 15, Garner 4-7 2-3 11, Brickman 0-5 2-2 2, Culpo 4-11 4-6 15, Martin 3-3 4-4 13, Thompson 0-0 1-2 1, Mayorga 0-2 0-0 0, Odoch Opong 0-0 0-0 0, Onyechi 0-0 2-2 2, K. Joseph 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 27-35 68.
PENN ST. (3-0)
Borovnjak 4-8 1-2 9, Oliver 3-10 0-0 9, Lewis 1-5 0-0 3, Frazier 9-18 5-6 26, Woodyard 4-9 4-4 13, Glover 2-4 2-3 7, Marshall 0-4 2-2 2, Colella 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 3-5 0-0 6, Travis 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 27-65 14-18 77.
Halftime-Tied 36-36. 3-Point Goals-LIU 7-20 (Martin 3-3, Culpo 3-7, Garner 1-1, Olasewere 0-2, Mayorga 0-2, Brickman 0-5), Penn St. 9-27 (Frazier 3-4, Oliver 3-8, Lewis 1-2, Glover 1-3, Woodyard 1-6, Travis 0-1, Marshall 0-3). Fouled Out-Borovnjak. Rebounds-LIU 34 (Culpo 7), Penn St. 37 (Oliver 10). Assists-LIU 11 (Culpo, Garner 3), Penn St. 17 (Frazier 10). Total Fouls-LIU 19, Penn St. 24. Technical-Penn St. Bench. A-5,258.