BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — In a game full of wild swings, Indiana boxed out No. 9 Penn State.
The Hoosiers let a 19-point first-half lead completely disappear, fell behind by six and then rallied for a 68-60 victory Sunday.
“We play the game in 10 four-minute battles or rounds like a fight,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “There is going to be swings and you have to fight through it and find way to weather it.”
Al Durham scored 14 points and Trayce Jackson-Davis had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers (18-9, 8-8 Big Ten).
“We got off to great start and should have had a bigger lead going into halftime, but we made some dumb errors,” Miller said. “We took a huge punch in the second half and times this year that punch has hurt us a lot more. ”
Devonte Green contributed 10 points for the Hoosiers, who made their final four free throws to help seal the win.
“At the end of the game, we made almost every single hard hustle play,” Miller said. “We were able to make some plays when it was tough. We found a way to finish. For the most part, we played smart. We fought and finished the last two games well defensively.”
Lamar Stevens, who was plagued with foul trouble all game, led Penn State (20-7, 10-6) with 29 points on 11-of-27 shooting.
“Lamar was great but he needs help,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “When we are successful we are sharing the basketball. We were relying on one guy.”
Penn State has been without Myreon Jones, who is averaging 14.1 points, who has missed the last five games with an undisclosed illness.
“You have give them a little bit of a pass when you have a guy that good that is not playing,” Miller said. “Hopefully, he comes back because they are having a great year. They always grind you out and play hard.”
The Nittany Lions opened the second half with 12 unanswered points to slice Indiana’s 13-point halftime lead to 37-36. The Hoosiers’ cold streak continued as Penn State took a 48-42 lead with 12:17 left.
“We came out at halftime and punched back,” Chambers said, echoing the boxing theme. “That’s a tough environment and we competed until the end.”
In a game of long scoring droughts by each team, the Hoosiers regained control with a 11-0 run punctuated by a dunk by Jackson-Davis to take a 55-48 lead.
Justin Smith, who had nine points and eight rebounds, said the Hoosiers have been resilient in winning three of the last four games. Indiana topped host Minnesota 68-56 on Wednesday night.
“We lose a couple in a row and everyone wants to count us out and freak out,” Smith said. “We never waver. This is a tough league. All the teams are good pretty much. They are going to get you a couple times. We’ve responded well and we’re going to work on the momentum going forward.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers have now won three of their last four games and improved their NCAA Tournament hopes with a victory over a ranked team.
Penn State: After winning eight in a row, the Nittany Lions have cooled off. They have lost two in a row and saw their hopes for a Big Ten regular season title diminished. The Nittany Lions will need to find another scoring option if Jones doesn’t return from his illness soon.
Penn State will likely drop several spots in the rankings after losing to unranked Illinois at home on Tuesday night and now unranked Indiana.
Indiana travels to Purdue on Thursday night. The visiting Boilermakers beat the Hoosiers 74-62 on Feb. 8.
Penn State returns home to face Rutgers on Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions lost at Rutgers 72-61 on Jan. 7.