STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Jamelle Cornley chose his words carefully.
The senior forward wants to celebrate Penn State's best season in years, though he knows there are still five-plus weeks of basketball left to play - and even more if the Nittany Lions keep winning.
``It's something where you try to find a happy medium,'' said Cornley, known for his fiery intensity on the court. ``This is the best record that I've been a part of. You don't want to get too high, but at the same time you don't want to get too low.''
The Nittany Lions (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) are on the upswing, riding a four-game winning streak that has kept them in a logjam with Minnesota and Illinois for third place in the Big Ten, behind Michigan State and Purdue. Penn State is on its first four-game conference winning streak since 1996.
this late into a season.
Heading into Thursday's game at Michigan, the 17 wins are the most in success-starved Happy Valley since 2000-01. Sunday's 72-68 road win against Michigan State, ranked No. 9 at the time, snapped Penn State's 0-16 record in East Lansing. It also boosted the Nittany Lions' postseason resume and sent a message to Big Ten opponents.
Penn State can no longer be overlooked in the Big Ten.
``I'm happy right now,'' Cornley said, ``but I'm not going to settle.''
Not after nearly blowing a 12-point lead late in the fourth quarter following another dismal showing at the foul line where Penn State went 1-for-8 down the stretch.
Guess what the Nittany Lions will be concentrating on this week in practice?
``I got a nasty e-mail from somebody ripping me about free-throw shooting,'' coach Ed DeChellis said. ``Guys don't go up there to miss.''
DeChellis doesn't know what to make of his team's foul shooting woes, a season-long issue. He's impressed, though, that players like Talor Battle and Danny Morrissey, who each missed foul shots, were back in the gym Sunday night after returning from East Lansing.
``We're going to continue to work on it, but it's really kind of hard to stimulate that kind of atmosphere, that kind of pressure,'' DeChellis said.
m didn't execute very well, though they did shoot 56 percent against Michigan State. It helps when players like Battle, the Big Ten's leading scorer, contribute a career-high 29 points.
It's exactly the kind of good fortune that Penn State had been missing in recent seasons. Now the breaks are going Penn State's way, and DeChellis has the players to keep up with the rest of the rugged Big Ten.
``In years past, we wouldn't have enough juice to win a game like'' Michigan State, DeChellis said. ``This year we have a little more firepower to overcome not playing well, and perhaps winning the game.''

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