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Penn State Hoops Takes Indiana To The Wire In 61-58 Victory

Penn State men’s basketball (6-5, 1-2 Big Ten) earned its first conference win with a 61-58 victory over Indiana (10-3, 1-2 Big Ten) Sunday night. The matchup served as the Nittany Lions’ first game since December 11 due to COVID-19 issues.

Jalen Pickett led the way with 15 points, while Myles Dread had all 12 of his points come from three-pointers. Sam Sessoms had a clutch 10 points, and while he had just six points, John Harrar led the way with 12 rebounds.

How It Happened

John Harrar got the scoring started for the Nittany Lions, though it took three minutes for them to score. Jaheam Cornwall was then able to find his way to the free throw line, where he made both baskets. Greg Lee got his first start of the season since returning from injury, and he made a nice layup to get his first points of the game.

The Hoosiers would go on a 7-0 scoring run, however, to build up a big lead. Penn State wasn’t going away, though. Jalen Pickett made his first three of the day, Harrar found the basket again, and Myles Dread made his 19th three of the season to bring the game within two points.

Lee would quickly tie the game with a midrange fadeaway, a shot that could make him dangerous to defend if he hits those regularly. Indiana would follow that up with a midrange shot of its own. Seth Lundy would take the lead with his first three point basket of the game.

Indiana quickly retook the lead, though Pickett hit a three to retake the lead immediately after. The Hoosiers scored on back-to-back jumpers to tie and then retake the lead. It was the theme of the game, with both teams going back-and-forth in the first half.

Lundy hit a massive three to cut the lead to one point with just over a minute left in the half. Pickett was able to hit a late midrange shot to retake the lead and go into halftime up 27-26.

Lee got the second half started with a close up floater, but he would go on to pick up his third and fourth fouls of the game in the span of two minutes. Who knows why head coach Micah Shrewsberry left him in the game when he picked up his third foul, but it was a poor coaching decision.

The Hoosiers responded by going on an 8-2 run, causing multiple turnovers and not letting the Nittany Lions score a field goal. Cornwall scored those two points on a trip to the free throw line. Shrewsberry would call a time out and rip into his team, and smash a clipboard clean in half while he was at it.

Penn State started to gain momentum when it created turnovers. Those turnovers led to back-to-back three pointers from Dread and Sam Sessoms. Pickett was also able to have a wide open layup to extend the Nittany Lions lead to three points.

Sessoms was on fire in the second half. He made a jumper and then a heat-check three that pushed Penn State’s lead all the way to 10 points. The Hoosiers went on a 9-0 run, though, and slowed the game down to their pace.

Down the stretch, the Nittany Lions couldn’t buy a basket. Pickett finally broke the scoring drought with a last second heave. The scoring was still an issue, though, as Penn State had three offensive rebounds and five shot attempts and could not make a single basket.

Another issue came when Harrar went down with an injury. It was a big deal not just because he was the unquestioned leader of the team, but since Lee had four fouls and Jalanni White is not a major offensive presence. Harrar would come back into the game with about three minutes remaining.

Dread hit a massive three, but Indiana responded with a three-pointer of its own. Lundy was able to find his way to the free throw line and he sunk both free throws. The Hoosiers got a good look in the paint and cut the lead down to one.

Sessoms was able to draw a foul with 13 seconds left in the game, and he made both free throws. Indiana had two attempts from behind the arc to tie the game, but both missed, giving the Nittany Lions a 61-58 victory.

Takeaways

  • Even with 22 days off due to health and safety protocols, the Nittany Lions looked impressive. Their defense was much better, and they were shooting better from behind the arc. Getting Greg Lee into the lineup really helped them in terms of being able to defend better, as well as giving the offense a new weapon that teams haven’t prepared for yet. Head coach Micah Shrewsberry did a very good job preparing his team for this game.
  • That said, turnovers are a big issue for the team. Penn State had eight in the first half, and if it could have just limited those numbers to four or five, it could have gone into halftime with a bigger lead. The Hoosiers scored 11 of their 26 points off of turnovers in the first half. The Nittany Lions cannot self-sabotage if they want a chance to truly compete in the Big Ten.
  • Jalen Pickett has evolved into a really good scorer. There were some growing pains for him when the season began, but he has become more consistent and developed into a key asset for this team. If he continue to grow and keep that consistency, he will play a big role in Penn State winning more Big Ten games.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will travel to Northwestern to take on the Wildcats on Wednesday, January 5. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. and air on the Big Ten Network

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a senior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in secondary education and minoring in social justice in education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor", and yes mom, actually doing school work. If you would like to talk about sports or "Survivor", the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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