Penn State took Indiana's best punch at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday and didn't blink.
The Hoosiers (15-1, 3-1 Big Ten) shot 16-24 (66.7 percent) from 3-point territory and 51.1 percent overall, and the Nittany Lions (9-8, 1-3), without leading scorer Tim Frazier for the final two minutes, still managed to battle to within one possession in the final minute before falling 88-82.
Frazier led the team with 21 points and seven assists and Jermaine Marshall had a solid game, putting up 20 points and three rebounds, but they simply couldn't match Indiana's dynamic duo of Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth. Hulls scored 28 points on 7-9 shooting from the perimeter while Matt Roth was almost as good, finishing with 22 points on 5-6 from deep. The two, obviously, were a big part of Penn State's undoing.
"If you told me at the end of this day that [Christian] Watford had 10 and [Cody] Zeller had 10, I would tell you, 'Did we win by 10?'" coach Patrick Chambers said after the game. "You know Hulls is going to get his average but he played well above that. He was unconcious."
In fact, Penn State did limit both Watford and Zeller, Indiana's interior players, fairly well, holding them to those combined 20 points and just 11 combined rebounds. The Lions also forced 16 Hoosiers turnovers and made good use of the free throw line, getting their early and converting as well, finishing 21-25.
That effort, combined with a 20-point win against Purdue on Thursday, still isn't enough for Chambers, though.
"There's no moral victories," Chambers said. "I know it's a cliche, but it gets contagious."
If not a moral victory, given Indiana's No. 12 ranking, however, the Lions, picked by many to finish dead-last in the Big Ten, impressed a lot of people, Indiana's Tom Crean chief among them.
After the game, Crean spoke highly Tim Frazier, saying Chambers has coached him onto a "complete guard," and noting that even last season, Indiana put as much emphasis on him as it did Talor Battle. Crean also praised Billy Oliver saying a big part of the Hoosiers game plan was to slow him down after a 7-11 effort from 3-point territory against the Boilermakers.
Indiana largely succeeded in contained Oliver, limiting him to just nine points on 3-5 shooting, but
"We have tremendous respect for both of those guys," Crean said. "Without a doubt, they're both very good players."
So good, apparently, that Crean evaded saying much about Indiana's game plan against the pair, given the two teams will meet again shortly on Jan. 22 in Bloomington.
Penn State now travels to face Nebraska on the road Wednesday evening before returning to the Jordan Center a week from Sunday. By then, Frazier is hoping the team will be ready to put forth a more complete effort so that the Lions can come out on the winning end.
"We played hard. We had some spurts where we played extremely hard," Frazier said. "We have to put 40 minutes together."
NOTES: New head football coach Bill O'Brien was introduced to a standing ovation from a crowd of 8,250 during a timeout in the game...Freshman Trey Lewis did not play in the game, with Chambers saying "Trey's got to earn it," after the game...Penn State's 82 points tied a season high in scoring.