[Another dispatch from our correspondent in Indy, Matt Pencek. More forthcoming.]
There was reason to believe. Not that the Nittany Lions were going to pull of the upset against Indiana, although that was a possibility with the number of rallies Pat Chambers' team has been a part of this season. There was reason to expect that Penn State would make the Hoosiers sweat it out, much like they did at the Jordan Center in January. Thanks to the Nits' Mr. Everything, Tim Frazier, that is where the opening round of the Big Tournament was at halftime.
Penn State trailed only by six points, 38-32. Frazier had 19 points and his team shot 40.7% from the field. Indiana had committed eight turnovers, and despite 13 points for Jordan Hulls and 12 from 2nd Team All-Big Ten Cody Zeller, they could not shake the undermanned Lions.
Then, the second half started and the Tim Frazier we all saw in the first 20 minutes was gone and never returned. "They went into a zone and took me out of the paint," PSU's guard said. With that lane seemingly barricaded, Frazier could not replicate his 7-14 first half shooting as he missed his first eight shots in the second half. Frazier's fall was mirrored by his team, as Penn State hit only 28.6% from the field during those final 20 minutes.
"We just tried to take away a lot of his catches. Just make things difficult for him and get him out of his certain spots," said Indiana forward Christian Watford.
Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean took the explanation further. "When you limit Frazier's touches but, more importantly, you limit his ability to penetrate and create havoc in the lane. Whether it's his basket or a basket for somebody else it gives you a better chance to win. That was the biggest part of our plan today."
How successful that approach will be next season depends on what type of development occurs this summer, as all nine players who saw action in the loss are expected back for the second year of the Chambers era.