You take ’em any way you can get ’em in the Big Ten this year.
IU didn’t bring home any style points on Wednesday night in an 87-85 overtime win over Penn State.
But the Hoosiers did make key plays in meaningful moments to snap a two-game losing streak and secure its first league win. And perhaps just as important, a couple vitally important veterans gained some confidence along the way.
Indiana (6-4, 1-2) will face Maryland on Monday, Jan. 4 in Bloomington at 8 p.m.
This one had an ominous feel as the second half wore on.
IU led 77-68 after an Armaan Franklin layup with 4:08 remaining in the contest. It looked like it was time for the Hoosiers to cruise to victory, and it may have been that mentality that allowed the Nittany Lions to pull to within one by the 2:49 mark, and claim an 80-79 lead with :28 seconds left.
Indiana had also ceded a 12-point lead earlier in the half that had resulted from a 13-1 run, as the Hoosiers seemed to let up each time they found a little breathing room.
But in the closing seconds of regulation, and on into overtime, IU came up with critical plays on both ends to salvage the win.
“We get the ball to overtime, you name it, whatever needed to happen happened,” IU coach Archie Miller said after the game. “We found a way. To be able to get this one tonight is a big one. I think more a sense than anything is the confidence in some guys. As we move forward hopefully this picks up our juice a little bit and our energy up.”
After much talk about the erratic play of veteran guards Al Durham and Rob Phinisee, both players delivered in this one, giving Penn State several more weapons to contend with.
“Al Durham and Rob Phinisee tonight, both kids played their butts off for us,” Miller said. “There is a big difference in our team when our older guys, our guys that have been most experienced are playing with confidence like they did tonight.”
Balance was the operative word on the night for IU.
Far too often early in the season the Hoosiers have had nowhere to go for points beyond Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin. Both of them had big nights, but they were two of five who scored in double figures — the first time this season that many had ten or more points.
Spurred by Durham and Phinisee’s improved play, Indiana’s much maligned backcourt delivered 55 points on 20-of-35 shooting.
As a team, the Hoosiers shot 32-of-56 (57.1%) from the floor for the game, the highest shooting clip of the season. IU knocked down 16-of-25 (64.0%) shots in the second half and started the second frame 11-of-14. Just as important — IU converted on 17-of-21 free throw attempts. In the aggregate, Indiana had its second most points per possession on the season and its most in Big Ten play with 1.17.
The Hoosiers did all of this despite not getting much out of their set offense. The offense aggressively attacked the lane all game as things broke down, outscoring Penn State 50-28 in the paint.
Miller is finding that his approach of calling plays in the halfcourt is leading to something undesirable in mostly empty arenas.
“I think that is the one thing that is unique about our times right now, it seems like every game we play every team knows exactly what you are doing,” he said. “They can hear every call. They can see every play coming a mile away. Their players can hear the bench from the other end of the floor screaming it out.”
That seemed to be the case on the final play of overtime, a game-winner in the lane from Phinisee.
“Yeah, obviously it was a broken play,” Phinisee said. “I just saw an opening and I feel like I had to make a shot for my team. I just delivered it.”
Indiana had more turnovers than Miller wants with 13, but the Hoosiers only had 6 miscues after halftime including the extra period.
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) December 31, 2020
We’re probably being generous here, but Indiana did get late stops in key moments including the final Penn State possessions of both regulation and overtime.
IU had its worst defensive night of the season, giving up 1.14 points per possession. It was the third game in a row that Indiana has allowed more than a point per possession after not giving up that much in any of the first seven games.
“I think defensively our whole team right now has taken a step back,” Miller said. “We dialed our defense back a little bit. I think teams like this tonight with that type of shooting tonight especially at the four position. It creates a lot of matchup problems.”
IU’s lineup isn’t particularly big, but Race Thompson was often in mismatches on the defensive end as Penn State went with four guards most of the night. That’s a look IU will see more of on Monday with Maryland.
Indiana blocked a season-high eight Penn State shots and forced 15 Nittany Lion turnovers.
The Hoosiers were ineffective on the glass with a -8 rebounding deficit. Penn State corralled 13 offensive rebounds and generated 12 second chance points off those opportunities.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Miller and players post-game
- “Big Shot Rob” returns
- Galloway continues to prove his worth
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B+) The Hoosier big man had several key plays late in the game and led IU with 21 points. It wasn’t a high-impact rebounding night, and he missed a key free throw that could have ended the game in regulation. But Jackson-Davis’ impact was felt in a big way throughout.
Race Thompson (B) Thompson had a relatively quiet night on the stat sheet other than the four blocks he delivered, and he didn’t commit a turnover. Thompson was effective defending the rim, but he did have some coverage issues on what were some tough perimeter defensive assignments as he attempted to guard much smaller players.
Al Durham (B+) Durham really got the offense rolling in the first half with a couple three-pointers and 12 points before the break. He made 4 threes on 8 attempts and added 4 assists against 2 turnovers. IU will win a lot of games with performances like that from Durham.
Armaan Franklin (B) Franklin is becoming such a steady producer that you almost don’t notice. He has scored 10-plus points in five-straight games. During the five-game run, he has averaged 18.8 points on 54.8% shooting from the floor. Turnovers continue to be an issue as Franklin gave it away 4 more times on the night.
Rob Phinisee (B+ / Player of the Game) Lost in the “Big Shot Rob” finish was Phinisee’s performance on the defensive end. Subbed in with just over a minute to go in regulation, he delivered a steal and two blocks to close out the second half. IU does not make it to overtime without those plays. The 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting is something to build on, as was his improved attacking mindset with the ball in his hands.
Trey Galloway (B+) His ability to attack off the bounce brings an added dimension to Indiana’s offense. Galloway broke down PSU’s early zone with relentless dribble penetration and precision passing. The freshman played like a senior with an efficient 10 points and 5 assists against just 1 turnover in 36 minutes.
Jerome Hunter (B) Hunter’s footwork in the paint was improved, as was his physicality and determination to score in more of a downhill mode against smaller defenders. He gave IU some valuable minutes and took a step forward.
Khristian Lander and Jordan Geronimo each appeared in the game.
Player of the game tracker: Jackson-Davis (4), Thompson (2), Franklin (2), Durham (1), Phinisee (1).
Note: Joey Brunk had back surgery on Wednesday and continues to be on an uncertain timeline.
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