STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Brandon Taylor and his Penn State teammates traveled nearly 6,200 miles across Big Ten country over the last five weeks and nearly forgot what it felt like to play at home.
But a raucous atmosphere on Saturday greeted them inside what’s been a usually-subdued Bryce Jordan Center where the Nittany Lions shocked No. 22 Indiana in a 68-63 win.
“I just thought they were jacked up to be in this arena,” Penn State coach Patrick Chamber said. “It was so nice to be home. We hadn’t been home in a long time.”
And the Nittany Lions (12-12, 3-8 Big Ten) hadn’t given hometown fans much to cheer for recently. Nor had they provided reason to hope they’d be able to slow or match the hot-shooting Hoosiers shot for shot when it mattered most.
But 15 Indiana turnovers helped. So did Taylor who found his shot down the stretch.
He scored 11 of his 24 points with less than 10 minutes left to help Penn State snap a four-game losing streak and win for just the third time in five weeks. Devin Foster added 13 points and Shep Garner chipped in 12 and made four of his final six free throws in the final 37 seconds to clinch the game for the Nittany Lions
“Throughout the whole game all I was thinking was, keep punching,” Taylor said. “They’re going to go on runs, we’re going to go on runs. But who can take the punches the most and respond is the team that’s going to win.”
Nick Zeisloft led Indiana (19-5, 9-2) with 14 points while Yogi Ferrell added 13.
But in a game that featured 14 lead changes and 13 ties, Taylor delivered the most devastating blows.
He sparked his team on a 21-15 run with a midrange shot with 9:34 left and hit his second of four 3-pointers on Penn State’s next possession and followed with another 3 moments later that gave Penn State a 55-50 lead.
The Hoosiers pulled it even at 58 on a pair of Zeisloft free throws, but the Nittany Lions took the lead for good on a Julian Moore layup that put his team up 64-61 with 1:13 remaining and Garner’s foul shots clinched it.
The Hoosiers, who entered shooting 51.6 percent, shot just 30.4 percent in the second half and finished 17-for47 (36.2 percent).
“I thought a couple of times we tried to make some plays that weren’t there,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Penn State’s second half was propelled by an energetic first.
Garner opened the game with a steal and layup and the Nittany Lions grabbed an early 11-5 lead thanks to physical play down low. Jordan Dickerson blocked a Collin Hartman shot in the opening minutes and Moore converted a 3-point play the other way. Taylor snagged Penn State’s second steal moments later and the Nittany Lions cycled the ball before Foster drained a 3 to give the Nittany Lions an 11-5 lead, their biggest of the game with 15:37 left in the first half.
It didn’t last.
The Hoosiers made 6 of 12 3-pointers that included long-distance makes from four players. They pulled even on a wild back-and-forth sequence that included turnovers on both sides. It ended when Ferrell caught up to an errant Penn State pass and threw the ball the length of the court to Williams whose layup tied it 16-16.
But Taylor mounted his own run to the delight of the Bryce Jordan Center’s biggest crowd of the season. He scored six of his 13 first-half points in the next 50 seconds to put Penn State up 22-19 with 8:51 left. Taylor wouldn’t score again until he hit a midrange shot with 28 seconds left. It cut Indiana’s halftime lead to 34-33.
Indiana: Entered the game on pace with the 2001-02 Kansas squad as the only teams to score 85-plus points per game, make more than 50 percent of its field goals and shoot better than 40 percent from 3-point range. The Hoosiers finished well below their averages in each category making just 36.2 percent of their field goals and shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State: Despite a 35-11 all-time series in Indiana’s favor, the Nittany Lions and Hoosiers have battled to close finishes recently. Each of the teams’ last four games has been decided by five points or less.
Indiana hosts No. 5 Iowa on Thursday.
Penn State visits Nebraska on Saturday.
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