Penn St. falls 75-58 to No .15 Indiana
Penn State's Tim Frazier tried everything Thursday in Indianapolis. He scored seemingly whenever he wanted. He hit 3-pointers. He played defense and he found open teammates.
He just didn't have enough help.
The Nittany Lions guard scored 19 points in the first half and finished with 26 in a 75-58 first-round loss to No. 15 Indiana in the Big Ten tournament.
''I think they went to a zone, they were able to try and keep me out of the paint,'' Frazier said of the defensive changes in the second half.
Penn State ended its first season under coach Patrick Chambers at 12-20 and with a far earlier exit than last year when the Nittany Lions wound up as the tourney runner-ups to Ohio State.
Frazier did his part. He went 4 of 6 on 3-pointers, had four assists and five steals. But Trey Lewis was the only other Penn State player to reach double figures with 11 points. And the Nittany Lions shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the second half.
Chambers knew that wasn't going to get the job done against a team that has won five in a row and may be playing its best basketball of the season.
''Indiana played great basketball. They played very tough, very physical,'' he said. ''We wanted to take away their 3s, for us, we did a pretty good job. But they drove the basketball. They did some pretty good things.''
Especially Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller, who turned Bankers Life Fieldhouse into their own personal playground.
Hulls scored 20 points, while Zeller had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Indiana ended a six-game losing streak in the tourney, which dated to 2006. Hulls and Zeller, both Mr. Basketball Award winners, also won high school state championships in this building.
''It's not my first time playing here,'' Hulls said. ''Shots were falling down for me, teammates were finding me when I was open and I created a little bit on my own. So luckily, the shot was falling down.''
For the Hoosiers (25-7), it's yet another feat to add to an impressive resume.
After becoming the first league school in nearly six decades to beat a No. 1 and No .2 team in the same season, after winning a school record 18 games at Assembly Hall and producing the first perfect non-conference season since 1989-90, Indiana now has its first postseason victory since beating Gonzaga in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament.
Their last win in Big Ten tourney play was a 61-56 decision over Wisconsin on March 10, 2006.
If the Hoosiers can beat No. 14 Wisconsin, the tourney's No. 4 seed, in Friday's quarterfinals, Indiana will have its most wins since the 1992-93 team won 31 games, the Big Ten regular-season crown and came within one victory of reaching the Final Four.
Hulls missed only 3 of 10 shots, two of those from 3-point range. Zeller made just 4 of 9 field goals but 11 of 15 free throws and dominated the middle.
''It's been good to me, so I'm enjoying that,'' Zeller said when asked about his success in the building.
And when Penn State's twosome couldn't match the productivity of Hulls and Zeller, who got help from Christian Watford late. Watford scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half, it was all over.
Hulls and Zeller accounted for the Hoosiers' first 22 points, and when their teammates finally got involved, the Hoosiers were virtually unstoppable.
Indiana used a 9-0 run late in the first half to finally break away with a 31-21 lead. Penn State managed to cut the deficit to 38-32 at the half.
But when the Nittany Lions shot 28.6 percent from the field in the second half, the Hoosiers wasted no time in putting the game out of reach.
Hulls' third 3 sent Indiana on a 10-0 run, which made it 50-34. And after the Nittany Lions closed to 54-41, the Hoosiers answered with an 11-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game -- 65-43 -- with 7:10 to play.
The only question after the game was how seriously Verdell Jones was hurt.
Indiana's senior guard crashed to floor, screaming and clutching his right knee with 5:45 left in the first half. He was eventually carried to the locker by two of his teammates and did not return. Team spokesman J.D. Campbell said in an email that Jones had been diagnosed with a sprained knee and would be evaluated again after the game.