Nittany Lions Drop Big Ten Home Opener to #5 Hoosiers

Story posted January 8, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Eric DeBerardinis

The opening sequence of Monday night’s matchup between Penn State (8-6, 0-2) and Indiana (14-1, 2-0) foreshadowed the rest of the evening. The Hoosiers controlled the opening tip and scored on a simple baseline drive from Christian Watford. On the other end, D.J. Newbill rolled off a screen towards the basket for an incoming alley-oop pass from Jermaine Marshall. However, Newbill couldn’t connect for the tone-setting slam.

The miss highlighted a game full of them for the Nittany Lions as they were beat 74-51 by the fifth-ranked Hoosiers.

Penn State’s first offensive play forced head coach, Patrick Chambers, to a string of post-game rhetoric.

“Freaking genius, huh?” exclaimed Chambers jokingly. “That really worked, didn’t it?”

Behind the smiles was a purpose.

“I felt like you go at them and say, we’re here and we’re going to be here for 40 minutes,” said Chambers.

The wasted opportunity served as a springboard for the Hoosiers. Watford was aggressive early, notching 8 points in the first four minutes, on his way to a game-high 16. With strong defensive play, their lead soon ballooned to double digits and beyond.

Penn State held the rebounding advantage throughout the first half, but simply failed to knock down close shots. Meanwhile, Indiana capitalized on offense, clearly exhibiting the validity of their top five ranking.

All-American candidate Cody Zeller displayed his ability on both sides of the court. The 7-footers presence forced confusion and lots of outside shots for the Nittany Lions. Zeller finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 4 steals.

The frustrated group of Nittany Lions trailed 44-27 entering the half.

Sloppy play became apparent after the two teams emerged from the locker room with 11 combined turnovers in the second half’s opening five minutes.

But again, Penn State couldn’t narrow the deficit.

“When you get some turnovers you have to produce points,” said Chambers. “If you don’t produce points, it’s going to be a long night.”

Newbill, the team’s leading scorer had an off night. The sophomore guard shot just 3-15 from the field and finished with 8 points and 5 turnovers.

Indiana head coach, Tom Crean, said he certainly keyed on containing Newbill with a variety of looks and players.
Penn State seemingly had no answer for the depth of Indiana. There was little drop-off when Crean resorted to his bench.

“It’s almost like they have two teams coming at you,” said Marshall.

Full-court pressure made Marshall’s job a difficult one on Monday.

“They played great defense, but we have to be aggressive at the same time,” commented the redshirt junior. “I don’t think we were as aggressive as we should have been.”

Penn State improved upon their dreadful one free-throw attempt against Wisconsin, but still managed only 11 against Indiana. For the second consecutive game, the Nittany Lions were out-shot by 20-plus from the charity stripe.

Ross Travis was the team’s leading scorer with 14 points on a career-high 17 shot attempts.

The prolific Hoosier offense managed just 30 points in the second half, but maintained their defensive effort.

“You have to match their work ethic and their toughness,” said Crean. “I think we did that tonight.”

For the game, Penn State committed 19 turnovers, and shot just 32% from the field, not a winning equation, especially against one of the best teams in the country.

The Nittany Lions will be in action again on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center when they take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Coverage can be heard on ComRadio beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Marshall of the loss on Monday. “But now we have to move on to Northwestern and forget about it.”

Chambers sees positives with the quick turnaround.

“That’s the beauty of the Big 10,” he said. “No time to feel sorry for yourself.”

Eric DeBerardinis is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please e-mail ejd5136@psu.edu.