Sitting on the bubble and battling for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, Indiana gave their postseason resume a big boost by beating No. 9 Penn State on Sunday afternoon.
IU knocked off the Nittany Lions 68-60 at Assembly Hal in what was a tightly contested game down the stretch.
The formula for coming away victorious was very similar to the game plan against the Golden Gophers, which was to get the ball inside to Trayce Jackson-Davis and control the paint. As a result, the floor became more spaced out and opened up opportunities for good looks from the perimeter.
Jackson-Davis scored 13 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field while also grabbing 10 rebounds. The 17 field goal attempts was something that head coach Archie Miller was pleased with.
“He shot 17 times. That’s what I’m happy about,” Miller said. “That’s what I’m happy about. He was aggressive. He stayed with it.”
Indiana senior guard Devonte Green shooting the ball well was also a welcomed site and helped the Hoosiers maintain control throughout the first half. Green shot 3-of-5, or 60 percent, from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
We got off to a great start,” Miller said. “I thought we played really well early in the game defensively. First half offense was pretty good and should have had a bigger lead going into halftime.”
IU shot 14-of-27, or 51.9 percent, from the field in the opening frame, including going 4-of-8, or 50 percent, from three.
Not only was Indiana efficient on the offensive end in the first half, their active hands defensively allowed them to push the pace and drive strong to the basket. The Hoosiers forced Penn State into nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes of action, which they converted into 15 points.
“The key all week, to be honest with you, was to be great on the ball. And our ball pressure was really good in the first half. 0-for-6 from three is huge,” Miller said. “Not only (Indiana) turning it over five times and not giving them a lot of run-outs, but we also did a really good job pressuring and covering the line early so they didn’t make a ton of threes.”
IU went into the locker room holding a 37-24 lead. However, that lead was quickly erased due to a 24-5 run by Penn State to put the Nittany Lions ahead 48-42 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the second half.
Indiana responded with a crucial 15-2 run capped by a De’Ron Davis layup to take a 57-50 lead with just over five minutes remaining. Five of IU’s field goals over that run were on the inside, with the other being a Jerome Hunter made three to get things started.
“At the end of the day in basketball there’s going to be swings. You have to find a way to hang in there and weather it,” Miller said. “And you have to find a way to make a couple runs. And then our defense, to me, is the whole key as we finish the season. Can we get defensive stops and can we play in transition defense to offense, because right now we’re taking care of the ball a little bit better.”
Today was another step in the right direction for Indiana’s NCAA Tournament hopes, and one that they can look to build off of as they hit the road for their next two contests.
Inside The Numbers:
Three players were in double figures for Indiana. Al Durham led IU with 14 points, Trayce Jackson-Davis had 13, and Devonte Green had 10 off the bench. Jackson-Davis was IU’s leading rebounder with 10.
IU lost the rebounding battle 37-35. Indiana had nine second chance points on the night while Penn State had eight.
For the game, Indiana was 23-of-54, or 42.6 percent, from the field including 5-of-14, or 35.7 percent, from three-point range.
The Hoosiers were 17-of-27, or 63 percent, from the foul line.
For the game, IU had seven assists compared to 12 turnovers, while Penn State had only four assists and 15 turnovers.
Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions with 29 points.
Indiana (18-9, 8-8) travels to West Lafayette to face the Purdue Boilermakers in a Big Ten conference matchup. The game tips off at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 27.
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