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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- What can be said of Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center? It is fresh and new, polished to an antiseptic shine, an impressive 15,000-plus-seating, 360,000-square-foot-boasting facility that is in every way imaginable the anti-Palestra. Tonight it hosts the Boston Pops; Friday it ushers in the Dave Matthews Band. And Saturday it will be wiped clean once again, before the hoops are rolled out for Penn State-Temple. It is at once cavernous and well lit, and as the relatively new home of your average Big Ten basketball program, it is predictably indistinguishable from any other big arena. All of which makes it a fitting backdrop for the Penn men's basketball team, which lost to Penn State 84-74 on Saturday. Because the Quakers -- off to their worst start in 16 years -- have been nothing this year if not predictable. "It's just been the same games," said Penn center and captain Geoff Owens, whose team is winless after four eerily similar losses. Again on Saturday, the Quakers played well in spurts, kept it close against a tough opponent. And again they gave the game away in self-defeating fashion. "It's been very similar [in the way] our mistakes have cost us. That's very frustrating. It's the same thing," Owens said. "It's not like it's something different, and we're getting better in certain areas -- we're just not getting it done. That's very frustrating." Penn senior Lamar Plummer -- the only one consistently cool, collected and accurate on offense for the Quakers on Saturday -- had little trouble earmarking the problems that have plagued the team. "[We] just foul too much. And when we get fouled we just don't make free throws," said Plummer, who scored 20 points in 26 minutes. "That's basically it. We're not disciplined enough with the little things. Boxing out. Finalizing the rebound. Keeping guys in front of us when we do get beat. And not fouling." If there was one positive, it was that Plummer emerged as a true go-to guy on offense for a team struggling to replace All-Ivy scoring threats Michael Jordan and Matt Langel. Emotional leader Owens put up respectable numbers (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) but disappeared for stretches -- he put in six of the team's first eight points, then went scoreless for 11 minutes -- and took too few shots (8). And sophomore forwards Koko Archibong and Ugonna Onyekwe were far too erratic. "A guy like Ugonna's got to step up and start to really play -- and I think he knows that," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's not a foolish kid, he's a real bright kid, he understands that if he can step up and make some of his foul shots in crucial times for us it cuts the lead a little bit. And Koko's got to do the same thing. Those two guys are key ingredients. Those two guys are the most important right now." Archibong was impressive in spots -- skying waist-and-shoulders above everyone else in the paint to block a Titus Ivory shot in the second half -- but he missed three of his five free throws. And while he's been a capably selective three-point shooter in the past (previously a career 9-of-14), that's not the game the wiry and athletic Californian should be playing -- it caught up with him as he bricked 4-of-5 open three-point attempts Saturday. Onyekwe did finish with 16 points, but he missed four of his first five free throws en route to 4-of-10 overall. His struggles encapsulated Penn's horrific day at the line, as the Quakers made just 14-of-27 foul shots to the Nittany Lions' remarkable 40-of-48. Last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year played himself out of the game at one stretch, following a bizarre foul on Gyasi Cline-Heard with just over 15 minutes to play and Penn trailing by merely a basket. Cline-Heard went up for a fast-break layup and Onyekwe leapt for the block; with Cline-Heard reeling on the court, the overhead Jumbotron showed Onyekwe planting his foot in the Penn State forward's groin. As the fans showered U with boos, Cline-Heard's surrogate free throw shooter, Tyler Smith, calmly sank both shots, and Penn would never again get closer than four. It didn't end there, though, as Onyekwe bricked a three on the other end and followed it up by grabbing Smith's jersey on the next sequence. That set up a Joe Crispin-to-Smith inbounds; Owens fouled Smith trying to help out, and Smith made the bucket and, of course, the ensuing free throw. While Onyekwe has the potential to dominate, Plummer -- a talented player who left the team last year for personal reasons and had not scored as many as 13 points in one game since 1997 -- emerged as the type of player to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition and cause Bryce Jordan fans to hold their collective breath. He shot 4-of-6 on three-pointers and didn't miss a free throw in four attempts. But the senior guard also got into foul trouble, rendering himself useless by picking up his fifth personal with 6:56 still to play. With Plummer on the bench, the game unravelled predictably; the Quakers playing sloppy, missing foul shots, and letting the score slip away. "You can't blame it on officiating, you can't blame it on anything else, you've got to look at yourself," Plummer said. "Find out what you could do a lot better. And that's what I think we all need to do -- look within ourselves." Looking at the schedule shows the Quakers to be at the midpoint of a gauntlet run that will have them face tough La Salle and nationally ranked Maryland, Seton Hall and Temple before the new year arrives. But the first four opponents have likewise not been creampuffs, and that is what has been frustrating to the Quakers -- they have tied the score or held a lead in the second half of all four games. And then they have let it slip away -- correctably so, painfully so, and now predictably so. "It makes it very upsetting, because you're in the game, you know you can win this game," said Plummer, voice barely above a whisper. "But then it just slips away from you."

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