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January 7, 2013Trying to beat the No. 5-ranked team in the country, Indiana, armed with a juggernaut lineup that has the No. 1 scoring offense (87.9 points), scoring margin (+28.3 points), No. 9 3-point percentage (41.4 percent) and No. 3 rebound margin (+12.7) in the country is hard enough.
Doing it without your star senior point guard, Tim Frazier, while shooting just 31.7 percent from the field, and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc is next to impossible.
In one of its worst offensive performances of the season - against one of the country's best defenses - the Nittany Lions fell to the Hoosiers, 74-51, in front of 9,386 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night.
"When you play a team like Indiana and you get some turnovers, you have to produce points, and if you don't produce any points, it's going to be a long night," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "I saw a little bit of last year in tonight. I thought some of our decisions were poor.
"Give credit to Indiana for the defense that they played. We looked very uncomfortable out there tonight. We have to continue to work. A lot of positives. We came out and we defended, we just have to take better shots."
Though there was plenty of anticipation from the home crowd, including a packed student section, the night started on a sour note and wouldn't get much better.
Just 16 seconds after Hoosier Christian Watford sent home an easy layup to open the game, Nittany Lion guard D.J. Newbill couldn't quite come down with an alley-oop attempt that, had he converted, could have sent the BJC crowd into hysterics.
"I felt like you go at them and say we're here a"nd we're going to be here for 40 minutes," Chambers said afterward, publicly lamenting his decision. We missed it. You make it, it could be a different first eight minutes. The students were ready to erupt and they did erupt, he just missed it."
Quickly, the Hoosiers built a 15-3 lead in the first six minutes that grew to as many as 18 points at the 9:41 mark, then kept the Nittany Lions at arms' length throughout the rest of the first half.
The second half began on a more positive note for Penn State as the Nittany Lions forced four consecutive Hoosier turnovers. However, the Nittany Lions gave up four turnovers of their own in the same two minute span, rendering the defensive improvements moot.
Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall was just one of the Hoosiers' defensive casualties, turning the ball over four times along with D.J. Newbill's five.
"They're a real solid team on defense," Marshall said. "They stick to what they do on defense and they do it well. We played into their game plan. They play hard. They like to push the ball, so they were able to bring it down and make easy shots.
Said Chambers, "I felt like they pressed a little bit, Jermaine and D.J., and I think that's why you saw so many turnovers. We can't get too deep and trapped like that or we're going to turn the ball over and that's what we did tonight."
Penn State returns to the hardwood Thursday night against Northwestern for an 8 p.m. tip at the BJC.
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