Thoughts on a 78-75 win over the Nittany Lions:
With the season hanging in the balance, Tom Crean stalked the court earlier than usual. It was an indicative sign of the moment: Indiana needed this one in the worst way, and there was no time for messing around. No time for slow starts or not playing to potential.
And the Hoosiers responded.
Yes, Penn State gave Indiana a hell of a finish and nearly stole this one back after being down seven with 1:07 to play. Indiana had trouble inbounding the ball and Thomas Bryant fumbled down the stretch once more. After Lamar Stevens hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds to play, this one seemed destined for overtime. Did you really expect Indiana to get something drawn up and put together after this epic collapse and the way this season has been trending?
But it happened. James Blackmon Jr. took the inbounds pass from Zach McRoberts and dribbled down the court as the seconds ticked away. As he approached the right wing, the length of Julian Moore was there to meet him on his buzzer-beating shot.
Didn’t matter. Jimmy Buckets delivered for Indiana, dropping in the 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Hoosiers to escape University Park with the victory.
Despite the late-game heroics from Indiana’s best scorer, this win was a team effort. In the first half, Indiana’s freshmen delivered off the bench. Devonte Green continued to prove he deserves minutes. He had another ridiculous pass in transition, this time to Thomas Bryant, who finished a dunk through contact. Less than a minute later, Green hit a 3-pointer to put the Hoosiers back in the lead.
Curtis Jones added four points and a steal in eight first half minutes. De’Ron Davis worked his game in the post and drew fouls. He hit 5-of-6 from the line in the first half and had three rebounds in six minutes of play.
The Hoosiers turned the ball over on just 14.3 percent of their possession and hit 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from distance to carry a seven-point lead into the break (44-37).
But tragedy struck, as OG Anunoby picked up a non-contact knee injury at the close of the half, screaming as his body hit the floor. He’d need help to walk off the floor. His night was done.
Could the Hoosiers keep it going without both Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby? They could.
Indiana kept the momentum in the second half. Zach McRoberts got the start in place of Anunoby in the second half and his hustle and defense was tremendous. Freddie McSwain had a putback dunk. Everyone was contributing and Indiana had a 13-point lead with 5:36 to go.
Could Indiana close this one out easily on the road? They couldn’t.
The collapse happened. It wasn’t pretty. Indiana had been here before against Penn State, and at the moment in time, a repeat would have been about the biggest stomach punch imaginable. But Jimmy Buckets came up big. Crisis averted.
Who knows where it goes from here, but for a night, Indiana played with heart and guts and pulled one out on the road. Adversity struck, and the Hoosiers persevered.
Can they keep it going?
Filed to: Penn State Nittany Lions