STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Tom Crean has grown used to frenetic finishes when his squad has matched up with Penn State recently.
It doesn’t mean the nail-biters have gotten any easier to take, especially when Indiana has come out on the losing end as they did Saturday when Penn State beat No. 22 Indiana 68-63.
The Hoosiers (19-5, 9-2) usually-potent offense sputtered from the opening tip, shooting just 41.7 percent in the first half and 36.2 percent on the night. Although Indiana notched six first-half 3-pointers and rebounded from an early deficit to lead 34-33 at halftime, long-distance shots eluded them in the second. Meanwhile, Penn State got them when it mattered most.
Brandon Taylor scored 11 of his 24 points with less than 10 minutes left and sparked his team on a 21-15 run to close the game. He was left wide open twice in the corners to hit two 3-pointers in that span.
Nick Zeisloft led Indiana with 14 points while Yogi Ferrell added 13 for Indiana. 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.
“They made some shots because we were late getting out to the shooter and just ridiculous,” Crean said. “We don’t come off guys and that’s where the concentration and focus wasn’t as good.”
It was evident in the Hoosiers’ sloppy play with the ball in their hands.
They turned the ball over 15 times and Penn State turned those mistakes into 19 points.
“We just tried to speed them up,” Taylor said. “That’s a great team and turnovers are our daggers. We tried to speed them up and get them out of rhythm the whole game.”
Meanwhile, Crean disagreed with Taylor’s assessment.
“I saw a different game,” Crean said. “I saw us have some unforced turnovers. But he might be right. He’s the winner. They get to see what they see and I’ll watch the film and see what we have to get better at. I thought a couple of times we tried to make some plays that weren’t there.”
The Hoosiers pulled even at 58 on a pair of Zeisloft free throws with 2:22 left, 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.
Garner hit four of six foul shots in the final 37 seconds to clinch Penn State’s win in a game that featured 14 lead changes and 13 ties.
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.
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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