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Defense The Name Of The Game As No. 24 Penn State Hoops Closes Out Indiana 64-49

Penn State men’s basketball (15-5, 5-4 Big Ten) put in a tremendous defensive effort at home against Indiana (15-6, 5-5 Big Ten). In the Nittany Lions’ third win in a row, Lamar Stevens led the way with 17 points as he made himself Penn State’s third all-time leading scorer.

Pat Chambers’ squad also put up a season-high 15 steals, as Jamari Wheeler, Myreon Jones, and Stevens each had four.

How It Happened

After a Jamari Wheeler layup right off the tip, Indiana roared back with a quick five points to make Penn State look rather sluggish. The Hoosiers brought the gritty, hard-nosed defense that’s brought them success this year, with Rob Phinisee in particular providing some lockdown protection on the perimeter.

Penn State kept up up thanks to solid defense and Lamar Stevens taking over on offense, but the rest of the team couldn’t get themselves good shots. The Nittany Lions would go on a nearly five minute scoreless stretch before a Mike Watkins dunk broke the skid. Penn State was keeping up with the Hoosiers, though, with Indiana holding onto a slim 11-10 lead with 11:21 left in the first half.

Coming a week after his monster game against Michigan, Curtis Jones Jr. kept his hot streak alive. A big corner three and a powerful take to the hoop to finish among four Hooisers helped keep Penn State neck and neck with Indiana. The Nittany Lions were able to capture a one point lead thanks to that trey from Jones, but the Hoosiers were right there behind them.

The Nittany Lions took the lead back once more in explosive fashion, with Stevens and Jones Jr. getting two layups in and Myreon Jones finishing in transition to hand Penn State a 23-19 lead. Two minutes would pass without a single point before both teams got their swagger back in the closing minutes.

Jones Jr. nailed another three, but a miss from the corner and an airballed midrange fadeaway ended the grad transfer’s hot start. The Hoosiers came back to snatch the lead once more, finding themselves up 28-26 with 32.9 seconds left in the half. A timeout from Pat Chambers would result in an open look for Seth Lundy with the ensuing miss put back by Myles Dread to knot things up at 28 going into halftime.

John Harrar broke that tie with the first bucket of the second half and Jones followed it up after taking a clear lane to the net. After that quick start, both teams would struggle out of the gate, with plenty of fouls being committed both ways.

After Indiana fought to get within one point, Penn State strung together some crucial buckets, with back-to-back threes from Dread and Lundy making it a 39-32 Penn State lead with 14:27 left in the game. Wheeler would put back a Watkins miss after the big man went coast to coast off a steal to give the Nittany Lions a nine point lead, but a Hoosier three kept the momentum from going fully Penn State’s way.

The Hoosiers wouldn’t keep the Lions at bay for long though, with Lamar Stevens moving up to third on Penn State’s all time scoring table and giving Harrar an outlet pass that led to a huge slam for the Delco product. Penn State found itself up 11, in the double digits for the first time all game as Indiana had been able to keep the lead small up until that point.

Penn State kept up the pressure to close things out, with rock-solid defense propelling them to a 59-41 lead with 3:16 to go in the game. Shooting under 40%, the team was still able to get by as the Hooisers struggled even more from the floor for the remainder of the game.

Takeaways

  • Lamar Stevens had himself an up and down night. He sealed his spot as the school’s third all-time leading scorer and grabbed his 800th career board, but a 7-20 shooting night while going 3-8 from the line soured things a bit.
  • Penn State’s defense was on one against Indiana. They forced 18 turnovers and stole the ball an incredible 15 times, with three different players reaching four on the night. Those 49 points from the Hoosiers were also the second-lowest total by a Penn State opponent all season.
  • Going 11-23 from the line is not a recipe for success. Although Penn State was able to still win the game by a comfortable margin, come tournament time those misses are going to cost them.

What’s Next

Penn State will be taking another road trip, this time to Nebraska on February 1. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and you can catch all the action from Lincoln on BTN.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a junior majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Philosophy. He's a Philly sports fan, which causes him existential dread on the daily coupled with a deep distaste for the current state of Star Wars. Send him death threats at [email protected] and follow @m_paolizzi on Twitter for a near constant supply of second-hand embarrassment.

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