Two teams entered Indiana’s Assembly Hall tonight, only one walked away no longer winless in Big Ten play. Unfortunately, that team was not Penn State.
The Nittany Lions spotted the Hoosiers the first four points of the game before Myreon Jones nailed a three-pointer two and a half minutes in. The Lions would continue to struggle from the floor for most of the half, as they had more turnovers (5) than made field goals (3) going into the under-12 media timeout. Indiana meanwhile, kept PSU at bay with enough buckets to maintain a consistent 4-8 point lead.
Things went from ‘meh’ to worse when Jim Ferry was whistled for a technical foul after (rightfully) being livid at the referees for missing what seemed like an out-of-bounds call that instead ended up being a made trey for Indiana on the same possession. Indiana nailed a pair of technical free throws and just like that, was up by nine and threatening to put PSU in a real hole before halftime. Sam Sessoms however, answered with a trey, and Jones completed an old-fashioned three-point play on a fast break layup to keep the Lions in it. The Hoosiers would take a 38-33 lead to the locker room, thanks in large part to their starting backcourt of Armaan Franklin and Al Durham picking up the scoring slack (the two guards combined for 19 of the Hoosiers’ first half points).
PSU continued to hang tough in the second half, with stingier defense and Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy starting to pick up the scoring slack along with Jones. Twice PSU had the game tied up but they were unable to take the lead. The Hoosiers would go on to rip off a 13-1 scoring run to push the lead into double digits for the first time all night, thanks to some hot shooting from downtown. With less than ten minutes to go and the game slipping away, it seemed as though PSU was finally down for the count.
Of course, this is PSU hoops we’re talking about so they naturally made things interesting by clawing back, eventually cutting the deficit to a single point with 2:30 left, thanks to a late 8-0 run led by triples from Jones and Sessoms. PSU had yet another chance to claim its first lead of the night with 1:30 left when Brockington stole the ball and attempted a fast-break layup, but was rejected. Sessoms would then get tied up in a jump-ball situation which favored the Hoosiers, resulting in a turnover.
The PSU defense clamped down again though, resulting in another steal. Following a timeout called by Jim Ferry, Sessoms nailed a baseline jumper to give PSU their first lead of the night at 80-79 with 28 seconds left. Indiana’s star big man Trayce Jackson-Davis however, would draw a very questionable foul call (to put it nicely) with seven seconds left and had a chance to give the Hoosiers back the lead. Jackson-Davis nailed the first free throw, but bricked the second, which John Harrar rebounded. In yet another bit of controversial reffing, Sessoms appeared to be bumped into on his game-winning shot that was blocked but no call was made, and the game headed to overtime.
Jamari Wheeler started off the OT period with an immediate bucket off the tipped ball, but PSU’s offense went stagnant after that, missing shots on their next several possessions. Jackson-Davis put IU ahead in the final minute with a bucket and foul. Jones would tie the game at the free throw line after drawing a foul driving to the hoop, but the Hoosiers answered back with IU guard Rob Phinisee nailing a baseline jumper with 14 seconds left and the shot clock winding down. Sessoms drove the hoop on the ensuing possession and dished it off to Brockington, who misfired at the buzzer. More heartache in Bloomington for Penn State.
As you’d expect, the teams were pretty close in PPP and field goal efficiency. Despite PSU’s significant advantage in offensive rebounding though (13 to 4), it wasn’t enough to put the Lions over the top. You can thank that in part to Indiana having more trips to the charity stripe (21 to PSU’s 15) and a couple fewer turnovers (13 to PSU’s 15).
Player of The Game - Myreon Jones
Myreon was consistent scoring throughout the game, finishing with 20 points with a very nice 6-for-9 shooting from the floor (including 4-for-6 on treys) and hitting all but one of his five free throws. While it took other teammates picking up the slack to give PSU a chance in the end, Myreon’s scoring in the first half helped keep the team out of a deeper hole at halftime.
- Can’t Blow a Big Lead if You Never Build One! [points to own head]
- Foul Troubles - Izaiah Brockington, Seth Lundy, and Jamari Wheeler each picked up two fouls in the first half alone. This could have really spelled disaster in the early going, but to PSU’s credit, they were able to hang around longer than expected.
- Jim Ferry Bringing The Fire - Nobody will ever mistake Jim Ferry for Pat Chambers when it comes to personality, but he sure let the refs hear it tonight. Whether it was getting T’ed up in the first half, or getting livid over the egregious non-call at the end of regulation, it was good to see him standing up for his team against some horrific officiating.
- Just Like Football - Similar to the PSU-Indiana contest we saw back in October in another sport, PSU started off rough in the first half but IU was unable to do enough to put the game away early. PSU ultimately battled back to take the lead and then got screwed by some awful officiating. 2020 needs to die in a tire fire, already.
Penn State (3-4, 0-3) heads back to the comfy, empty, confines of the Bryce Jordan Center when they take on Wisconsin this Sunday, January 3rd. Tipoff will be at Noon ET on BTN.