clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Penn State 85, Indiana 71: F*** It, Goin’ Deep!

The Nittany Lions got their first win at Indiana since 2014 thanks to some lights-out three-point shooting.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a roller coaster of a Big Ten ride in Mike Rhoades’ first year at the helm of Penn State basketball, garnering his first road win at PSU in the most unlikely of places at Rutgers without his leading scorer in Kanye Clary, only a few days removed from blowing a 16-point second half lead at home against Minnesota. With Clary out once again heading on the road to Indiana, it appeared the Nittany Lions had another tall task ahead of them, one that would likely prove to be too much...

Oh, us of little faith!

The first half saw both teams shooting the ball well, with both teams being above 50 percent from the floor at halftime. However, the Hoosiers were able to keep ahead of PSU the entire half, thanks to winning the rebounding and free throws battle. Kel’el Ware already had 17 points in the first half for IU, with Malik Reneau nearly in double figures himself with 9 points. Meanwhile for PSU, six made three-pointers, with half of them coming from Jameel Brown off the bench, and another pair from Zach Hicks kept the Lions within striking distance at halftime, trailing by just four after the Hoosiers led by as many as 11 at one point.

The second half saw the Lions pick up where they left off with the perimeter shooting, as Hicks and Ace Baldwin nailed back-to-back treys to give PSU its first lead of the game and spark an 10-0 scoring run that allowed PSU to capture momentum for good, building their lead up to double figures at the 12-minute mark. The Hoosiers never cut PSU’s lead back to single digits in the final 12 minutes, as the Lions had answers every time IU would respond with a bucket.

The PSU lead would balloon to as high as 18 points with 3:08 left, as the Indiana fans began to head towards the exits, and the Nittany Lions had shockingly notched back-to-back road wins in Big Ten play as 6.5-point underdogs. Both of them without their leading scorer available.

Players of the Game

Ace Baldwin, Jr. - 22 points, 3-for-5 3 PT FG, 8 assists, 2 steals

Zach Hicks - 19 points, 4-for-8 3 PT FG, 5-for-5 FT’s, 5 rebounds

Jameel Brown - 14 points, 4-for-5 3 PT FG, 2 assists

Qudus Wahab - 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals

Ace was the complete package today, whether it was driving to the hole for a layup, nailing a trey, dropping one of his eight dimes, or garnering a steal, he has stepped up quite nicely in the absence of his starting backcourt mate. Zach and Jameel combined for eight of PSU’s 12 total made threes, with Zach’s performance especially being something PSU fans had been hoping to see from him from the beginning of the season (better late than never).

You also don’t win handily on the road without some solid interior play, and that’s what Qudus was able to provide, as he had some big-time baby hooks and tap-ins, as well as crashing the boards.

Random Observations

  • Coming back from the edge - With 5:15 to play in the first half, Ware completed an old-fashioned three-point play to put Indiana up 34-23, their largest lead of the game. How many times have we seen PSU just fall apart at this point in the game? Not today, Satan! Jameel responded the very next possession with a trey to cut the deficit back to single digits and the Lions would further eat into the deficit before halftime to put themselves in position to take over in the second half.
  • Point guard controversy? - Is it just me, or does it seem like the offense has more rhythm and flow to it when it’s just Ace running the show as the main point guard? Kanye’s return will be very much welcomed whenever it happens, but he seems more of a “score-first” type of guard who is very good at the scoring part, but not so much in the assists department. Ace was more often than not able to take proper angles when penetrating and dish it out to a wide-open guy on the perimeter to knock it down, or to Wahab down low for an easy layup.
  • Another Quad 1 win - Today’s win gives PSU two NET Quad 1 wins on the season, with the first one coming from the home win over Wisconsin the other week. Currently sitting at 11-11 overall and 5-6 in conference play, if the Nittany Lions didn’t throw up all over themselves against Bucknell and the refs didn’t insert themselves into a loose ball situation in the final seconds against Georgia Tech, we could very well be talking about this team playing its way into the NCAA Tournament bubble discussion.

Up Next

Penn State (11-11, 5-6) will try to make it a three-game winning streak when they host Iowa (13-9, 5-6) on Thursday at the BJC. Tipoff will be at 7:00 PM EST on B1G Network.