Thomas Bryant, Josh Newkirk play large role in 3OT win against Penn State

It took Indiana Basketball 55 minutes of play to put away in-conference opponent Penn State last night. Thomas Bryant, Josh Newkirk were among the players who stepped up Wednesday night.

To say that Penn State has been a relatively easy in-conference opponent, especially Indiana Basketball, would be considered an alternative fact. In fact, the last five meetings against the Nittany Lions have been decided by 6 points or less.

After dwindling a 13 point lead with less than five minutes left in the second half, it took a James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beater to decide this match-up just two weeks ago. The Hoosiers playing at Assembly Hall Wednesday night were without Blackmon and sophomore forward O.G. Anunoby.

The match-up Wednesday night was nothing but entertaining. A win that both the Nittany Lions and Hoosier both needed. Penn State hoping to keep their faint NCAA Tournament hopes alive, while Indiana hangs on the bubble of tournament contention. This was a game that the Hoosiers undoubtably needed to win on their home floor.

Of course, no one would of though it would take a spectacle of 3 overtimes to decide.

A couple crucial free throws from De’Ron Davis, a buzzer beating-finger roll by Josh Newkirk and everything in between lead this Hoosiers team to a much needed win at home. Without two of the top players on the floor, Indiana battled their way back multiple times throughout the game. Resiliency — a motto for this team on Wednesday.

Feb 1, 2017; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Josh Newkirk (2) gets helped up off the floor from center Thomas Bryant (31) and forward Juwan Morgan (13) against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 1, 2017; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Josh Newkirk (2) gets helped up off the floor from center Thomas Bryant (31) and forward Juwan Morgan (13) against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Stepping up when it counts…

One of the most impressive moments of the night was the ability for Indiana not to give up. Sure, the lead was diminished multiple times — at times, most teams would of given up. Packed their bags and quit. Even with all the injuries, this team did not.

Thomas Bryant, who has been the heart and soul of this team played a major role in Wednesday night’s win. Bryant played 38 of the 55 minutes, put up a career high in points (31) and tallied 11 rebounds. He was instrumental in keeping this team focused on the task at hand. While his defensive metrics were not all that great on Wednesday, some of the trouble might have come with Juwan Morgan’s foul trouble early. Morgan only played 18 minutes, committing 4 fouls before the end of regulation.

A break out game for guard Josh Newkirk, who was the centerpiece to the win. Newkirk also had a career high 27 points, 9-14 shooting, and 50% from three. He provided the last second buzzer-beating finger roll to send the game to it’s second overtime.

The harsh criticism for Newkirk’s play has been seen throughout the season. Wednesday night provided a different story. He was nailing three-point shots, runners that were must haves in clutch situation. Newkirk was finding lanes and helping his team stay focused when all could have been lost. A really nice game for Newkirk, one that Hoosier fans will hope he can carry over into the tough road of February.

Robert Johnson played all but 5 minutes of the marathon game, scoring a career high 27 points of his own. At times, looked a bit lost (8 turnovers) but helped fill the scoring void left from James Blackmon Jr.’s absence. Indiana will need Johnson, Bryant, and Newkirk to continue their production on offense to have any shot at dancing in March.

Indiana will take on No. 10 Wisconsin at the Kohl Center — Sunday, February 5th at 1PM ET on CBS.

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