Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Penn State

  • 01/19/2017 9:16 am in

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 Zach McRoberts 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)

Filed to:

  • Ah, I see. We’re talking about two different things: you’re talking about fans’ views of “success” for specific players and I was thinking more along the lines how the players themselves might define success for themselves. I also was never much of a Vonleh fan. Very “meh” to me, to this day. Classic case of a bad fit for the program, in my opinion. So basically I wasn’t praising him, more the opposite.

  • mharv2631

    It sucks when I would rather see our center shoot FT’s than our guards.

  • On Priller: somebody here mentioned he might not have been at the last game. What’s the deal with that? Was it true? To his credit, he has seemed more active and serious in the times he was on the court this year. However few these cases were. Gellon has done alright, too. I don’t think they’re nearly ready for major contributions, but from what I’ve seen of them, they might be able to provide a couple minutes here or there. That’s about all I expect or ask of them.

  • HoosierKid

    I hate to admit it but this team is really bad and should not make the tournament. No way we should have won that game. 17 TOs and PSU shot only 38% from the field and missed 10 free throws. Back up the truck…back it up. The turnovers are not improving and the defense is not getting any better (Rutgers doesn’t count).

  • IUowns

    I am glad that we got the win because two weeks from now no one cares how we got as long as we got the road W. However, I was really sad when Curtis missed those two clutch one – and – one free throws. He basically left 4 (possible) points on the court. We can expect more from a 83% free throw shooter, who dropped dagger 3’s in his first collegiate game EVER.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    The yell reminded me of Mo Creek when he broke his leg. That’s what concerned me most. Hoping it was just the ankle, though. I twisted my ankle pretty good in HS during a game and missed about a week. It scared me more than anything. It hurt BAD too!

  • HooshWin

    Hoosiers will get to 7-3 in the Big Ten going into the game in Madison. Since the gods have decreed that we will never win there, I cannot predict pushing it to 8-3.

  • BMusic

    That’s very zen. Who are you, and what have you done with Ole Man?

  • IU_Nation

    It is our first real buzzer beater since the WatShot. And much like that shot, Coach Crean had absolutely no reaction, as he just turned and walked toward center court. Sometimes I don’t get him. The whole game he just claps and claps and then when we hit an absolutely huge shot- nothing. I don’t understand! Good win for our Hoosiera though

  • I wasn’t going to call out officiating in this game–I hate to do it generally–except to note quietly that at one point I think we had 10 fouls and they had just the one. It was getting comical watching PSU try to foul us enough times to get into the bonus–and then I was cringing as CuJo missed two front ends. But yes, that was ridiculous, and just another bit of adversity the team had to battle through to get the win.

  • Right, I was going to say. I was perfectly confident he was going to hit the first front end, and then utterly shocked when he missed the second. Pretty tough situation for a freshman, even one shooting 83%.

  • Yep. I hope some of those who’ve been so negative toward CTC’s playing so many kids are willing to acknowledge that it wasn’t so stupid after all.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Thanks. I thought so and you understood what I meant…real buzzer beater. I knew there were other game winning shots but didn’t think there was one since Wat where the clock was out

  • Hardwood83

    Agree that complaining about refs is weak, but sometimes it’s so egregious it must be stated. Like last year at Wisconsin when Hayes shot 23(?) FT’s BY HIMSELF. Freaking MJ probably never shot 23 FT’s in his career and the NBA refs were his sex slaves.

  • JethroTroll

    Maybe, but that’s far from a given. For starters, they’d have to get thru Sparty on Saturday, which is never easy, followed by road games against Michigan and Northwestern. None of those are gimmes. Northwestern is no joke. IU will probably be favored in just one of those games (MSU).
    I would love to see them run thru this stretch unscathed and get to 7-3 (which would put them back in the conference title hunt), but I’d be happy with 6-4. And to be realistic, 5-5 or worse is in play.

  • marcusgresham

    This is genius!

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t know if he has the athleticism either. I love the kid, but I can’t argue with you.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I agree it doesn’t look good. The next handful of games will be telling. Right now IU is still trending down hard and injury issues are piling up. Meanwhile you’re right, the big problems aren’t improving and IU still can’t close a game. I haven’t seen anything these last 2 wins that makes me feel IU is headed in the right direction. There is still time to make the change I just don’t know that it will happen.

  • Pman

    That seems like some good inside info. Have not seen it in print.

  • Ole Man

    They adjusted my meds??? LOL!

  • Pman

    I agree there is no need at this point in Crean’s tenure for excuses.

  • 3AM Burrito

    I think he had very favorable matchups so got less resistance from the D and stayed engaged. PSU bigs not big or athletic enough for TB. I think when TB gets played tough and doesn’t have success early, he loses confidence and isn’t as aggressive.

  • 3AM Burrito

    IU out of bounds 95% of the time is a harrowing event that seems to just rely on the IU player being more athletic to the ball. Very rarely a clean pass, more like passes to space and be first one to get it. BLOB, SLOB, vs press, just universally I hardly recall IU running a nice clean play for a bucket or easy entry.

  • Pman

    The latest draft boards do not have him in first round, but that can change. I think why there is a slight chance he may be back has more to do with him. He didn’t go last year when he was definitely a first round pick, so just making it to the league wasn’t the only thing driving him. He seems like a kid that will do all pre draft workouts and listen to all the input and make a informed decision. That may be to enter draft, but he could come back. Hopefully he dominates the rest of the season and is a lottery pick.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Correct!!! May I also add free throws?

  • Ole Man

    Actually, a lot of people would agree with you.
    Not me of course. LOL.
    But to question his effort is to question this kid’s heart; and he gives 100% of his heart to IU every time he is on the floor.

  • Ole Man

    He goes to the workout camps this year and goes somewhere between 15-20.
    He’s a much better athlete and more complete than Vonleh and Vonleh went even higher than that.
    An NBA squad gets ahold of him; he does nothing but practice –with specialist coaches– and is a 4/5 position, 10 minute man his first year. Two years he starts or is a solid role player.
    Really depends on who drafts him.

  • SidelineSportsNetwork
  • pcantidote

    Yeah, I really don’t even want to debate it with you because I love the kid. I just think maybe, just maybe, he found a different gear last night.

  • HoosierKid

    I’ll still continue to watch every game and cheer on the Hoosiers but it’s time to throw in the towel and move on to next year. Everyone knows point guard play and strong coaching is what it takes to do well in the tournament and we have neither. If IU somehow makes the tournament will only advance in my bracket if a 10-12 seed and my bracket offers bonus points for upsets

    My suggestions moving forward would be as follows:
    – Do whatever it takes to get James Blackmon to go to NBA and maybe get drafted late 2nd round and end up in D league. He’s a poison and ridiculous…a good 3pt shot is not worth a terrible attitude that turned overnight this season (what was with that shhh after the shot in that game and his constant flexing of those tiny arms?)
    – Medical redshirt Hartman – He could give us he leadership we are lacking even off bench as 10-12min a game and depth
    – Convince TB to stay another year. He’s going nowhere in the NBA and could use his education
    – Dump Newkirk and McSwain they offer nothing to our team and I’d like to see their report cards
    – Get a true point guard at all costs in the offseason
    – Keep Tom Crean – He sets a good example for the players and cares about the program. Just needs to stay out of the JUCO pool…we don’t need that at IU as we have shown over the years many in-state walk-ons have been much better

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    Except maybe, just maybe, the WINNING part?

    No one gives credit for being a better team, or playing better. Just Ws and Ls.

    And despite plenty of mistakes, they still got a W. Better than plenty of mistakes and an L (IPFW?)

    Penn State isn’t the pushover it used to be… they beat MSU and Minn at home. Only lost to UM by 3 in Ann Arbor.

  • IdahoHoosier

    A win is a win, so I get that part. But there is something to be said about HOW you win games, and what that says about a team. It is an honest assessment that IU is trending down, with losses to teams that normally wouldn’t have a chance, and barely beating teams IU let back into the game. Now OG is out. All of this doesn’t bode well for the future with tougher competition coming up.

  • Molon Labe

    I went to the game at PSU last year. It felt like the old Market Square Arena. They had curtains up in balcony sealing off all the empty seats. Even this year you could see that almost no one was in the lower level seats behind the baskets beyond about 5 rows up. Everything else was just empty. Pretty pathetic.