This one had trap game written all over it. Penn State was coming off a brutal February schedule. After this game they get Illinois later in the week. It would have been easy to look past the 6-21 Hoosiers and think this was an easy win. But Penn State isn't yet at the point where they can win by just showing up. And the Hoosiers gave them everything they could handle.
The 15,000 in attendance at the Bryce Jordan Center was the biggest crowd in eight years. But they were pretty quiet the whole game until the final minutes.
Andrew Jones has become a really solid player. He had a couple of boneheaded turnovers, but for the most part when he gets the ball in the low post good things happen. He finished the night 4-for-4 from the field, and get this: over his last eight games Jones has shot 21-of-27 (77%) from the field. He has shown a nice mid-range jumper to go along with the baby hook he's developing. And when an outside shooter pops open he's good at getting them the ball. I'm starting to think he may turn into a significant scoring threat next season when he gets some of Cornley's touches.
It was great to see Will Leiner get the start on senior day and play well. He played seven minutes and pulled down a rebound, dished two assists, and had a nice cut to the lane with a pretty up and under finish.
Chris Babb is coming along nicely in his development. He's looking very confident out there. He got a few open looks, but only one of his four attempts went in. I'm particularly impressed with his defense. He's really good at deflecting passes and poking the ball away if his man leaves it out there.
I'm really impressed with how this team has learned to close out games. They were trailing by four points with 5:26 to go in the game. in years past we would have panicked and thrown up some bad shots or turned the ball over. But this team closed out on an 8-1 run scoring on each of their final five possessions. They also got two steals without turning the ball over themselves. It's play like this that has allowed them to get away with their horrible free throw shooting all season.
It was nice to see a game where the officials were not the big story. For the most part I thought they called a really good game keeping things clean while also just letting them play.
It's never a good feeling when you let a poor team hang around when you should have run them out of your own building. Indiana is not a good team, and I would have preferred to make a statement by beating them badly. But they say there is no such thing as a bad win. I'll chalk this up to being emotionally drained from running the February gauntlet and make a little looking ahead to Illinois.
Jeff Brooks only played eight minutes. His lone basket came on an offensive rebound tip in. The ball was bouncing around a lot and I think he got three of his four rebounds just on that play. I hope this kid can put all that athletic talent together some day.
Andrew Ott was a complete non-factor. He played just three minutes. He pulled down a rebound and turned the ball over and then he went back to the bench. Next week he'll probably come out and get eight rebounds and ten points. I can't figure him out and I don't think Ed can either.
After a string of a few pretty good games, free throw shooting rears its ugly head again. The Lions shot an atrocious 7-of-17 (41%) from the stripe. Talor Battle is back to fading away from the shot. He hit just 2-of-6 attempts. Danny Morrissey is just consistently crappy at the line. Last night he shot 2-for-5. For the season he is now 13-for-23 (56.5%). Only Cornley (51.8%) and Ott (52.9%) are shooting worse.