BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana basketball added to their resume at arguably the most critical point in the season with a home victory over the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions. After the 68-60 win, the Hoosiers have moved to 18-9 overall on the season and reach 0.500 in the Big Ten at 8-8. Penn State’s chances of catching Maryland at the top of the Big Ten took at a hit as they suffer back-to-back losses.
The Hoosiers got their fifth win of the season against a ranked opponent.
Indiana weathered through a five minute drought that erased an Indiana lead of as high as 19 points in the first half. As well as things went for the Hoosiers in the first half, the opposite was true in the beginning of the second.
The Hoosiers wanted payback after they were embarrassed in State College at the end of last month. They had that opportunity this afternoon against Penn State, who have been surging in the past several weeks. Pat Chambers’ group entered Bloomington ranked as the ninth best team in the nation.
As mentioned, all things went Indiana’s way in the opening of this afternoon’s match up. After two quick layups from Lamar Stevens, the Hoosiers went on a 4-22 scoring run that included a field goal drought of seven minutes for the Nittany Lions. Indiana led by as much as 19 points in the first half.
Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis carried the momentum from his career performance in Minneapolis. There was no hiding Indiana’s offensive strategy. The plan was to be active off the ball and feed Jackson-Davis.
That’s exactly what the Hoosiers did. They went to Jackson-Davis early and often and allowed Indiana’s freshman big to work in a variety of ways. He worked with his back against the basket against Penn State’s forwards. He used his footwork to draw Penn State forward Mike Watkins up in the air. Jackson-Davis also effectively ran the transition as you can see in the example below.
Although we didn’t see career numbers, Jackson-Davis earned his ninth double-double of the season. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Race Thompson was another player that continued to play well from their residual confidence against Minnesota. Thompson grabbed three rebounds and had two points in ten minutes. Most importantly, he was assigned to Penn State’s star Lamar Stevens. Although Thompson was not as quick, he kept up against Stevens and forced him into taking attempts in the inefficient midrange.
Indiana’s three-point specialist Devonte Green had another one of his better performances. He forced an early turnover defensively that set the stage for the rest of his performance the afternoon. Green hit three shots from deep during an 11-point Indiana run at the seven minute mark of the first half.
Notably, both teams had to run less than ideal lineups due to foul trouble. For Penn State, they had three players with two fouls during the intermission: Seth Lundy, Jamari Wheeler, and Lamar Stevens. Despite playing with two, Stevens survived the remainder of the first half without picking up a third. For Indiana, they had five players of their own with two fouls: Al Durham and Indiana’s frontcourt made up of De’Ron Davis, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, and Joey Brunk.
Archie Miller would have liked to have re-done the beginning of the second half if he had the opportunity. The Indiana starting lineup that did not have the advantage with speed were unable to keep up against a speedier Penn State group. Penn State opened with an early 10-0 run that quickly erased Indiana’s lead built from the first half. Indiana kept just a single point edge at 37-36.
Jackson-Davis finally ended that Penn State run with an and-one finish at the rim against John Harrar.
Stevens was a large part of Penn State’s scoring run. After minimizing him in the first half, he willed his way against the Hoosiers in the second half. With some help from Penn State’s frontcourt to seal Indiana’s defenders, he easily walked into the paint and finished with his signature finesse. The Philly-native finished the game with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist. During this afternoon’s matchup, he took over as Penn State’s second leading scorer in program history.
Both teams traded bucket for bucket with no leads in double-digits for the rest of the way. As the defenses tightened and offenses slowed down, both teams were unable to build any significant streaks. In the end, Indiana was able to fight through Steven’s offensive onslaught and hold off the comeback from Penn State. Justin Smith had a timely offensive rebound, defensive rebound, and two free throws that halted Penn State’s surge. At the one minute mark, Justin Smith got a critical steal off of Stevens inbounds pass.
Indiana will earn their 18th victory of the season and will subdue bubble talk at least until later in the week.
Number of the Night: 25 Indiana bench points
One area where the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions differ is the balance of scoring. On one hand, Indiana distributes the ball as effectively as any team in the nation. At anytime, there are probably ten Hoosiers that are capable of scoring double digits for Indiana. We saw that this afternoon with 25 bench points for the Hoosiers.
On the other hand, Penn State had one offensive strategy all game, which was to get the ball to Lamar Stevens. When Stevens is scoring, the Nittany Lions are scoring. The Nittany Lions finished with just 12 bench points that does the storytelling on its own.
Source: Indiana Athletics
Next Up: at Purdue
The Hoosiers go back on the road this Thursday, but not very far. They will travel a quick bus ride up north to West Lafayette as they take on the Boilermakers for the return game. Matt Painter’s team has not won since their game in Bloomington. You can catch that game once again on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Tickets and the full schedule can be found on our Indiana Basketball schedule page.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ