No. 24 Penn State will be looking for a third straight victory when it plays host to Indiana on Wednesday in State College, Pa.
The Nittany Lions climbed back into the rankings following a rare road win at Michigan 72-63 last Wednesday. Penn State was idle over the weekend.
It is the second time this season that Penn State is among the top 25. Before this season, it had not been ranked since 1996.
Following just their third ever road win at Michigan, the Nittany Lions improved to 14-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten. Lamar Stevens led the way with 19 points while Curtis Jones Jr. scored all 18 of his points in the second half.
“I think we are starting to play our best basketball heading into February,” Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said after the nine-point victory. “And now we have some time off. We do have some guys that are bumped and bruised. Some guys are nicked up. So I think it’s a good time for that.”
Stevens will be searching for his 34th consecutive game scoring in double figures. In addition to his offensive output, he also pulled down nine rebounds against Michigan as he supplied tenacious defense throughout.
“Lamar made some good plays for us, but other guys stepped up. But he rebounded the ball,” Chambers said. “Lamar Stevens playing like that, he’s playing like an all-Big Ten player.”
Penn State is 10-1 at home this season.
Indiana (15-5, 5-4) will enter following a 77-76 loss to Maryland on Sunday.
The Hoosiers led 76-70 with 1:27 remaining but couldn’t hold on to maintain the momentum from a victory over Michigan State on Thursday.
“I thought in the second half we did a much better job of establishing offense, inside-out, and then defensively we were able to finally get some stops,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. “We built an eight-point lead, and we had our chances. (It’s) one of those ones you’re going to think back on, and obviously it’s going to really, really sting.”
Devonte Green paced Indiana with 16 points while Trayce Jackson-Davis added 13 points and eight rebounds.
In the end, all the Hoosiers could do was wonder how they let a late lead slip away. The next test at Penn State won’t get any easier.
“It’s a lesson like every other loss,” Green said. “We were down. We fought our way back. We got the lead and lost it. It shows the game can turn at any point.”
Like most of its games this season, Indiana had solid scoring balance with four players in double figures. Jerome Hunter added 12 points and Rob Phinisee had 10. The Hoosiers were 9 of 19 from 3-point range.
Cleaning up turnovers and defensive miscues down the stretch will be needed to come up with a road victory at Penn State.
“I’d say (it was) lack of communication down the stretch,” Phinisee said. “We turned the ball over last minute, and then they got (an) easy bucket. Really just communication at the end of the game. We just have to settle down on defense and lock up.”
–Field Level Media