Penn State (15-5 overall, 5-4 B1G) is beginning to pull away from the teams in the lower portion of the conference standings. There are still 11 regular-season Big Ten games to be played, so a lot can happen. For now, the Lions are one of six teams with a winning conference record in the toughest league in the country.
Lamar Stevens went to the foul line three times in the first 7 minutes. In past games Stevens has had issues staying out of foul trouble but he was the one doing the damage in the early-going. With 11:21 to go in the first half Indiana led 11-10.
Jamari Wheeler forced a 10-second call while pressing and then found former Hoosier Curtis Jones for a 3-point shot and a 14-13 Penn State lead. Jones scored on a layup shortly after, with Stevens on the bench getting a short rest. Curtis Jones hit an acrobatic layup off the glass and then Myreon Jones got a steal and layup to force Indiana to call a timeout with 5:53 to go before the half, down 23-19.
Indiana tied the game and with 3 minutes left then CuJo hit a three to regain the lead 26-23. Lamar Stevens was cold, missing a handful of shots he would normally make, starting 3 for 10 from the field. The Hoosiers fought back, taking the lead with 32.9 seconds to go in the first half. Myles Dread had an offensive rebound tip-in just before the half to knot the teams up at 28 at the break.
Joey Brunk got his third foul just two minutes into the half and had to go to the bench for Indiana. Watching he and Harrar go at it on the low-post was like watching two brothers battling on a backyard court. They are both so strong and similar in body frame.
De’Ron Davis got his third foul with 16 minutes to play on a Mike Watkins shot attempt and the Hoosiers were in trouble with two of their low-post defenders on the bench with 3. Seth Lundy hit a three, a rare sight in the game, as the teams were a combined 3 of 17 from the arc at that point. Myles Dread hit one shortly after for a 39-32 Penn State lead, the largest of the night to that point, forcing a timeout by Indiana. The fans erupted with support for Dread, who has been struggling.
Mike Watkins took a steal the length of the court but missed the shot, looking like a point guard running the floor. Jamari Wheeler came in with put back and the Lions led 41-35 at the under 12 timeout.
Mike Watkins went to the bench with what looked like a knee injury a couple of minutes later. John Harrar had a dunk in transition to give the Lions a 9-point lead a minute later. Lamar Stevens made a layup on the next trip and Indiana called another timeout, hoping to stem the tide.
Penn State began to pull away and with a Mike Watkins free throw, the lead was 15 with less than 6 to play. Myles Dread hit a 3-point shot and then he fed Izaiah Brockington for a dunk to get the lead to 18.
It was nice to see Dread and Brockington playing without any tension in their game, the two have not contributed too much lately but they are key players for the Lions. The lead got to as much as 20 before the Hoosiers chipped back into it late in the game.
- It was nice to see a solid and supportive crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center on a Wednesday night for a late tip. There are no easy wins in conference play and now that the BJC is becoming a tougher place to play than it has been in the past, it no longer has the feel of a neutral court for incoming conference foes.
- Lamar Stevens passed Joe Crispin and moves into third place on Penn State’s all-time scoring list. Stevens was not sharp early but he came on late in the game and filled out the stat sheet as he normally would.
- Curtis Jones led Penn State with 10 points with just 11 minutes played in the first half, shooting 4 of 7 from the field. Jones’ contribution kept the Lions in the game when the ball wasn’t going in the hoop for the rest of the team.
- Myreon Jones had 4 steals in the first half. Jones has got deserved attention for his scoring ability and efficiency, but his defense is sneaky-good. Jamari Wheeler gets attention for his stealing prowess, he leads the B1G, but Jones is in the top-5 and climbing. Wheeler and Lamar Stevens each finished with 4 steals. Penn State had 15 steals on the night.
- John Harrar has been playing great basketball. If you look at the stats, he’s there, but if you watch the game, he is a very big factor. It’s nice to know that he will be back next year to anchor the low post for the Lions. He only had 4 points and 5 rebounds, but his defense neutralized the Hoosiers. Here is his soaring dunk in the second half.
Penn State will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska for a Saturday night game. The contest will be televised at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Nebraska has beaten Purdue and Iowa at home and lost to Rutgers on the road by just 3 points a week ago. While the Cornhuskers have lost 6 straight, they will be a worthy adversary. 15,868 people were on hand at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the last game against Michigan, so expect a wild atmosphere.