When Penn State football lost at Indiana earlier this season, it was a bit of a surprise, as the Hoosiers, who are considered a laughing stock in the realm of college football, took down the mighty-but-underperforming Nittany Lions.
For a few minutes, it looked like Penn State basketball team (9-8, 0-4) was going to flip the script, and do to IU hoops what IU football did to Penn State back in October. However, it was for naught, as the Hoosiers (11-5, 1-2) took down the Nittany Lions, 79-76.
As has been the case all season, Penn State came out on fire during the first half of the game, starting the game on a 17-4 run and led Indiana by as many as 15 points in the early going. D.J. Newbill, Donovon Jack, and Geno Thorpe led Penn State’s early charge, as all three players scored five points in the game’s early going.
However, Indiana was able to slowly chip away at the Nittany Lion lead, and behind a monster first half from star freshman big man Noah Vonleh and a 10-4 to close out the half, the Hoosiers were able to go into the locker room down 41-37.
The entire second half was tight — Indiana never led by more than six points, while Penn State’s largest second half lead was four. Neither team was able to get much separation, and every time one team threw a punch, the other was able to respond.
Penn State’s big issue during the second half weren’t its usual slate of problems. The team shot essentially the same in the second half that it did in the first, avoided turnovers, and played perhaps its most complete second half of the season. However, foul troubles plagued the team. Tim Frazier, Donovon Jack, and Brandon Taylor all sat out for long stretches of the second half, and both Frazier and Jack fouled out.
However, the Nittany Lions were resilient, and battled without their starting point guard and center. With 8 seconds left and down by one, the Nittany Lions had one final shot to tie the game. Newbill pushed the ball up the court and pulled up from behind the three point line while getting hounded by Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell. Newbill missed, Indiana grabbed the rebound, and the Hoosiers ran out the clock.
“I thought it was a fair look,” Newbill said. “I’m 6’4″, Yogi Ferrell’s probably about 5’11”. I had a pretty good look over him. I thought it was gonna go in, it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”
After the game, Chambers, who is usually as animated of a coach as you’ll see, was especially fired up after the game.
“We’re a whining team right now,” Chambers said. “Whining for calls, we’re complaining often. It’s gotta stop. It’s gotta stop. We need to be in the proper position, we need to do a better job playing, defending, and rebounding.”
“I can’t stand that we’re close, we’re close,” Chambers continued. “But 35 free throws, it just, I’m not gonna complain about the refs, they have a tough enough job, but we gotta definitely play hard without fouling, that’s the bottom line. They straight line drive and they cause the contact. You know, sometimes I think we do the same thing and we don’t get the call.”
The Nittany Lions were led by Newbill, who scored 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting and pulled down 5 rebounds. Ross Travis had 13 points and 8 rebounds, while Tim Frazier had 10 points. It was the third time in four games that Frazier failed to register more than 10 points.
“We’re one stop, maybe two stops away from winning these games,” Newbill said. “The biggest thing for our team right now is to stay confident. Don’t let the lows be too low, just keep fighting, stick together, and just keep battling. That’s the only thing we can do right now.”
Penn State will look to get its first conference win on Tuesday, when the team travels to Ann Arbor to take on the 11-4 (3-0) Michigan Wolverines.