Film Session: Penn State

While Zach McRoberts didn’t score a point in Indiana’s dramatic win over the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night, his presence was felt.

McRoberts made a number of smart, hustle plays on both ends of the court to ensure extra points for the Hoosiers or ward off points for Penn State. In a close game the Hoosiers won at the buzzer, these plays proved enormous.

We’ll take a look at four in the latest edition of Film Session:

McRoberts guards the inbounds pass from Josh Reaves to Tony Carr:

Carr gathers and Robert Johnson is on his back side, giving him space to the bucket. McRoberts has turned to face the action:

He times Carr’s shot perfectly and swats it:

Johnson comes up with the ball off the block:

He dribbles down the left side of the court and finds a streaking De’Ron Davis:

Davis is fouled at the rim and hits one of two at the line:

Video:

Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Penn State

Indiana improved to .500 in Big Ten play on Wednesday with a thrilling 78-75 win at Penn State. The victory moved the Hoosiers to 13-6 overall.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Nittany Lions:

· Blackmon Jr. comes up big in the clutch: After blowing a 14-point second half lead, a short handed Indiana looked destined for overtime in Happy Valley.

But the Hoosiers, as shaky as things were in the game’s final stretch, didn’t fold. With 4.6 seconds remaining, Blackmon Jr. received a pass from Robert Johnson and dribbled the length of the floor past a screen from Thomas Bryant to the right wing. With Julian Moore a bit off balance, Blackmon Jr. rose up with a sliver of space and knocked in the game winner.

“We knew exactly the play they were going to run because we saw it while scouting,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “We drew it up in the huddle and we knew it was coming, but James hit a tough shot.”

The shot lifted Indiana to just its second win away from Bloomington this season. And in a game the Hoosiers desperately needed to win, it might have been a season saving play.

· Guard play carries Indiana to a win: The shot by Blackmon Jr. is obviously the headline, but the guard play throughout the contest was crucial to pulling out the win.

Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson each finished with 17 points and combined to shoot 8-of-17 on 3s. Both players also had strong rebounding games as Johnson tied a season-high with seven and Blackmon Jr. had five.

“It wasn’t easy, but they earned the victory and it would have been a shame if we wouldn’t have gotten this win,” Tom Crean said. “They earned it and Penn State is very good, no doubt about that.”

· Hoosiers overcome a significant loss: Indiana’s injuries have been a storyline dating back to September when Collin Hartman went out with a knee injury.

The Hoosiers were also without Juwan Morgan on Wednesday, who injured his foot in Sunday’s win over Rutgers. Things got even worse on the injury front when OG Anunoby, who had six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes, went down with a knee injury in the closing seconds of the first half. Anunoby couldn’t walk off on his own power and didn’t return to the bench at any point in the second half.

But even without two players who are integral pieces, the Hoosiers found a way to prevail.

“We dealt with a lot of adversity tonight,” Crean said. “And when you have a player like OG who means so much not only to the basketball team, but to the basketball family, it’s hard on everybody.”

· Despite turnovers, an improved performance by Thomas Bryant: We wrote about the dip in efficiency for Thomas Bryant so far this season earlier this week, but the sophomore finished much better on Wednesday night.

Bryant made seven of his nine 2-points attempts on his way to 17 points. Bryant also responded to Crean’s comments earlier in the week about his lack of rebounding with nine rebounds.

It’s been an up and down season for Bryant, but his play on Wednesday was a major reason Indiana was able to escape with a win.

· Bench comes up big: Without Morgan for the entire game and Anunoby out for the second half, Indiana needed its bench to step forward and perform.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Walk-on Zach McRoberts didn’t score, but had two rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 15 minutes. Devonte Green (five points), who seems to be gaining confidence, had another great transition pass to Thomas Bryant.

Freddie McSwain had a crucial follow for a dunk and two rebounds. Curtis Jones, despite missing two front ends of one-and-ones late, had four points and is never lacking in confidence.

And De’Ron Davis had seven points, four rebounds, a block and a steal in 14 minutes. With Anunoby’s future uncertain, Indiana is going to need strong bench play for the foreseeable future.

(Photo credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

Video: Pat Chambers, Penn State players react to loss to Indiana

Pat Chambers, Shep Garner and Tony Carr met with the media following Penn State’s 78-75 loss to Indiana on Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Watch both press conferences below:

Hoosiers pull off dramatic 78-75 win over Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — What for most of the second half looked like it was going to be easy for Indiana, had — in the final minutes — turned into a difficult and dramatic task: winning on the road shorthanded.

With 4.6 seconds left the Hoosiers were well on their way to a demoralizing collapse without two key contributors, OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan.

Penn State’s Lamar Stevens had just made two free throws, and the Nittany Lions (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten) had come from 13 points behind in the final five minutes to tie the game at 75.

Then the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten), who had given up a 13-point lead in the final 4:37, quickly advanced the ball up the court and James Blackmon Jr. hit a buzzer beating three from the corner.

The Hoosiers had escaped Happy Valley with a 78-75 win. They had narrowly escaped a major debacle on the road.

“[Blackmon] just did it flawless,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “A lot of times what happens in those situations when you are taking a shot at the end of a clock or at the end of a game it is easy not to take a fundamental shot.”

Blackmon talked about how well the Hoosiers carried out the play well before the ball left his hand.

“Really just execution on the play by everybody,” Blackmon said. “Rob (Johnson) made a great inbounds pass, led me. Then Thomas set a great screen and then they said just shoot it how you do in practice and that’s what I did… It felt great to get to get a tough road win in a tough conference.”

Shortly after the Hoosiers walked into the Bryce Jordan Center for Wednesday night’s game against the Lions, it became clear they would be missing at least one starter in Morgan.

As Morgan, who was previously listed as a game time decision, watched warmups with a walking boot on everyone knew the Hoosiers would be shorthanded for the night. Then in the final seconds of the first half the injury situation got even bleaker as Anunoby went down with an apparent knee injury. He did not return and Crean did not have an update on his status after the game.

“We talked through as much as he knew,” Crean said. “Our biggest concern right now is making sure that doctor, trainer do everything that we can do at this point. Get him home and figure it out.”

Anunoby’s injury came at the end of an opening 20 minutes that the Lions led in the early parts of, but ended with the Hoosiers on top 44-37.

Without Anunoby and Morgan out, and the Hoosiers making a habit of turning the ball over in the opening minutes of the second half, it looked like the Lions were going to tighten the game up. Instead the Hoosiers pulled away and grew the lead out to 14 points by the midway point of the second half before allowing the Lions back in it which provided for the late dramatics.

“We just know that we all had to step up, as a collective group,” Thomas Bryant said. “When one of our guys goes down, all of us step up even more.”

With so many players making key contributions, Crean felt that the young Hoosiers grew up on a demanding night in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“Jayd Grossman told me this morning that we’ve got the third youngest team in the Big Ten, it was a little bit younger tonight,” Crean said. “But they definitely grew up. It wasn’t easy but they earned this victory. It would have been a shame if we hadn’t gotten this win, because they earned it.”

The Hoosiers are trying to take the win and turn it into more. Before the season started expectations were high in Bloomington. But then the Hoosiers got off to a 2-3 start in conference play and slipped out of the top-25. They hope Wednesday’s win can be a springboard for the rest of the season.

“We always like a game winner,” Bryant said. “But we are going to look forward to the next step. Just go to the film and learn what we can learn from this game, we’ve got to keep improving each and every day. Really just build on this game, hopefully it carries us with a little bit of momentum.”

(Photo credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

Video: IU players react to win at Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Thomas Bryant met with the media following Indiana’s 78-75 win over Penn State on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Watch their postgame comments below:

Video: Tom Crean reacts to win at Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 78-75 win over Penn State on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Watch the full press conference below:

The Minute After: Penn State

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?

At the Buzzer: Indiana 78, Penn State 75

Quick thoughts on a 78-75 win over the Nittany Lions:

How it happened: This one didn’t come easy for Indiana. The Hoosiers had to overcome a knee injury to OG Anunoby late in the first half. And with 4.6 seconds to go, it appeared that Indiana was headed for overtime after blowing a 14-point lead with under 10 minutes to go. But the Hoosiers weren’t going to be denied. On the game’s final possession, James Blackmon Jr. took the ball the length of the floor and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Hoosiers to their 13th win of the season. Indiana is now back to .500 in conference play at 3-3.

Standout performer(s): Three different Hoosiers finished in double figures as Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Thomas Bryant each finished with 17 points in the crucial road win. Blackmon Jr. and Johnson combined to shoot 8-of-17 on 3-pointers. Bryant finished with nine rebounds.

Statistic that stands out: Indiana scored 1.09 points per possession against Penn State, which was giving up just .90 points per trip coming in. The effective field goal percentage for Indiana was 56.6. Coming into Wednesday, Big Ten opponents were shooting just 44.2 percent against the Nittany Lions.

Final IU player stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

(Photo credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

What to Expect: Penn State

Indiana travels to State College on Wednesday night for a critical matchup with Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions are 11-7 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on BTN with Jeff Levering and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Indiana is running out of time to break through in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have played five of their 18 conference games and are sitting at just 2-3.

Yes, it’s technically still early in league play, but the problem is that eight of Indiana’s remaining 13 conference games are on the road. The path to 9-9 or better means Indiana has to win at least two road games and that assumes no more slip ups at home, which is no guarantee.

How big is Wednesday’s game at Penn State? If you put any stock into KenPom’s win probabilities, it’s enormous. Here’s a look at Indiana’s remaining Big Ten road games with Pomeroy’s chances of an Indiana win (as of Tuesday, Jan. 17):

Pomeroy is projecting just three road wins for Indiana and Wednesday’s game is one of them. And of the three, it’s Indiana’s second best chance at a win away from Bloomington remaining on the schedule. As John Gasaway correctly pointed out today over at ESPN Insider ($), Indiana can’t take anything for granted the rest of the way.

MEET THE NITTANY LIONS

Two of Indiana’s next five games are against the Nittany Lions, who have won three of their last four. That stretch included a nine-point win over Michigan State at the Palestra and a 2-point win over Minnesota in State College.

Penn State has come a long way since a home loss to Albany to begin the season and a 19-point blowout loss at home to George Mason on Dec. 7. The Nittany Lions play as hard as any team in the league and are beginning to see positive results.

The scouting report begins with 6-foot-2 junior guard Shep Garner, the team’s leading scorer. Garner loves the ball screen – something that Indiana has struggled to defend – but has really struggled with his efficiency in Big Ten play. Garner’s effective field goal percentage in five conference games is just 34.7. His 12.4 points per game lead Penn State.

The arrival of freshman point guard Tony Carr, a former Indiana recruiting target, has allowed Garner to play more off of the ball. He leads Penn State in assists (3.7 per game), but is also struggling with his shooting in league play. Carr is shooting just 35.5 percent on 2s and 29.4 percent on 3s in Big Ten games.

A third guard, 6-foot-4 sophomore Josh Reaves, also starts and is a valuable contributor. Reaves is long and can defend as his steal percentage is eleventh in the country. He’s probably a good bet to spend significant time on James Blackmon Jr. While he’s limited offensively, Reaves does a nice job using his athleticism to draw fouls and get to the foul line. His free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in league play is 43.9 percent.

Payton Banks, a 6-foot-6 junior, comes off the bench and is Penn State’s third leading scorer. He’s shooting a team-best 39.7 percent on 3s. The Nittany Lions have only made 85 catch-and-shoot jump shots this season and Banks has 33 of them.

Another former Indiana recruiting target, Lamar Stevens, is one of the Big Ten’s best freshmen on the wing for Penn State. Stevens visited Bloomington and was a high school (Roman Catholic) and AAU teammate (Team Final) of Carr. His 12.2 points per game are second on the team and he’s also second in rebounding at 5.8 per game. Stevens is an energy player who loves to play physical. He’s finishing close to 48 percent of his 2s.

In the post, junior Julian Moore is the starter but redshirt freshman Mike Watkins is a force. In Big Ten play, the 6-foot-9, 246 pound Watkins is third in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and ninth in block percentage. He’s averaging 9.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in league games.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Pat Chambers has Penn State defending at a high level, but the Nittany Lions are struggling offensively. Penn State is great at getting to the foul line, but their offense really struggles overall in the half court.

Penn State is playing the second fastest tempo in league play and it’s clear they are a much better offensive team in transition. The Nittany Lions rank in just the 16th percentile nationally in half court offense, but in the 71st percentile in transition. Indiana has never shied away from pushing the pace, but it might be a strong consideration in this contest.

It’ll be surprising if Indiana’s offense comes anywhere close to its average output (1.16 PPP), so if the Hoosiers hope to win one away from home, the defense must travel. Indiana was able to hold Rutgers down on Sunday, but this will be a better litmus test to gauge where Indiana stands defensively. Penn State hasn’t scored more than 1.06 points per trip in a Big Ten game. Indiana has only given up less than 1.14 once. Something has to give on Wednesday.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

KenPom likes Indiana by four with a 65 percent chance for victory. Sagarin likes Indiana by 5.5. Based on recent evidence, that seems high. Penn State is trending upward while Indiana, outside of Sunday, is really hard to gauge.

The Hoosiers are 3-1 in their last four trips to State College with the lone defeat in that stretch coming during last season’s 15-3 run to the league crown.

This is a crucial week for Indiana with Michigan State looming on Saturday in Bloomington. At 2-3, Indiana’s margin for error is basically gone. Can the Hoosiers start building some momentum with a much needed win on the road?

(Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

Juwan Morgan a “game time decision” for Wednesday at Penn State

The status of Indiana sophomore forward Juwan Morgan, who injured his left foot in Sunday’s 76-57 win over Rutgers, remains up in the air for Wednesday’s game at Penn State.

Tom Crean said yesterday on his radio show that Morgan wouldn’t have been able to go if the Hoosiers had practiced on Monday.

On Tuesday afternoon prior to the team’s departure for State College, associate head coach Tim Buckley said he was unsure of Morgan’s availability for Wednesday night.

“I don’t have any sense yet,” Buckley told reporters. “It’ll probably be a game time decision.”

The 6-foot-8 Morgan has been banged up for much of his career in Bloomington. As a freshman, Morgan played through multiple shoulder injuries that required offseason surgery.

This season, he’s appeared in all 18 games, but has battled through multiple setbacks.

Morgan played just eight minutes in Indiana’s 97-62 win over Austin Peay on Dec. 22 because of an ankle injury suffered near the end of the first half. Six days later, he suffered a shoulder injury after being pulled to the floor by Nebraska’s Jordy Tshimanga in a game that Indiana lost 87-83 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

And most recently, Morgan collided with an official in Sunday’s win over Rutgers. He was checked out by trainer Tim Garl on the bench and briefly returned to the game before sitting at the end of the bench with ice on his left foot.

Morgan is averaging 7.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and a block in 20.5 minutes per game.

“There’s a lot of pain there,” Crean said Monday. I talked to Tim (Garl) a couple times. (Juwan is) certainly going through his rehab and we’ll just have to wait and see. There’s really no timeline on it right now.”