Happy Valley, PA- It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Indiana Hoosiers. After having high hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid, they found themselves 10-3 after non-conference play. The first few games of Big 10 play, though, they seemed to play themselves out of tournament contention as they lost in overtime on the road to Illinois and by double-digits to Michigan State last Saturday.
That rough stretch of play continued though the first 11 minutes of today’s game at Penn State as they found themselves down 15 points when Ross Travis hit a three-pointer to give the Nittany Lions a 31-16 lead with 9:15 left in the half.
At that point it looked like Indiana head coach Tom Crean had lost his team. They were playing sloppy, shooting a dismal 18-percent, giving up easy second-chance buckets to Penn State and weren’t playing defense. They just looked out of it.
Whatever happened during that timeout changed this game.
The Hoosiers were flying all over the court forcing turnovers, pounding the glass and moving the ball to good shooters, and they eventually clawed their way back into the contest.
Indiana went on a 21-9 run to end the half and put themselves back in the game as they trailed by only four at the half. From there effort was key in the second half as they battled with Penn State on every possession and finally looked like the better team.
Indiana didn’t lay down when Penn State was giving them their best punch in the second half, and nowhere was that more evident than a huge Austin Ethrington three-pointer in the corner to give IU a one-point lead with 1:22 left. Again, effort by him, Jeff Howard and Stanley Robinson off the bench fueled this Hoosiers team.
The trio combined for 18 points and nine rebounds to fuel Indiana (11-5, 1-2) to their first conference victory of the season while Penn State is still left winless (9-8, 0-3).
If Indiana can get this type of effort from everyone going forward then they can be back on track.