Penn State stuns IU with game-closing 10-0 run

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana led Penn State 64-53 with 3:19 to go and 65-56 with 2:09 left but collapsed down the stretch and allowed the Nittany Lions to go on a 10-0 run to take a 66-65 win in front of a stunned crowd of 17,472 at Assembly Hall.

The Lions improved to 13-12 overall, 4-8 in the Big Ten. Indiana fell to 14-10, 4-7.

Indiana scored its last field goal of the game with 5:16 to go and scored its last point on a free throw by senior guard Evan Gordon with 2:09 left. On the ensuing possession, freshman guard Stanford Robinson fouled Penn State senior guard Tim Frazier near half court, bodying him up a bit too hard. Frazier sunk two free throws to make it 2:06.

The ensuing possession — a possession that never really started — began Indiana’s problems inbounding the ball against Penn State’s full-court pressure. Sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell had several timeouts at his disposal but didn’t use one and the Hoosiers turned the ball over on a five-second violation. The Nittany Lions made them pay with a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Brandon Taylor. 

Gordon attempted to extend the lead on the next possession but missed a 3-pointer and Taylor hit a jumper in the paint to make it 65-63 with 1:07 to go. Indiana held the ball until the 33 second mark on the next possession when Gordon was called for a traveling violation.

Indiana got a key stop when sophomore forward Austin Etherington took a charge from Penn State guard John Johnson. However, after that possession, senior forward Will Sheehey turned the ball over on the inbound. Frazier stole the ball and dished it to Penn State junior forward Ross Travis, whom Sheehey fouled before he could score. Travis hit one of two free throws and cut the deficit to 65-64.

Facing the possibility of losing the lead entirely, Indiana still couldn’t get the ball inbounds. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh tried to inbound the ball and threw deep to the halfcourt line but had the pass intercepted by Penn State sophomore guard D.J. Newbill. Penn State called timeout and afterward, Frazier knifed to the rim to score what became the game-winning basket. The Hoosiers called timeout and drew up a play to set a screen for sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell or get Sheehey in an isolation situation. Ferrell took a doubly-contested, off-balance shot at the buzzer and missed, and the Hoosiers lost a game they led by 13 points.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Frazier didn’t have a great shooting night, making just three of 10 field goal attempts, but he hit the one that mattered and finished with 14 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals. He helped double-team Ferrell on the press and that was perhaps the biggest reason the Hoosiers found it nearly impossible to get the ball inbounds.

Sophomore forward Brandon Taylor has struggled against Indiana in the past, but not in this game. He scored 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting and his two buckets in the last two minutes helped turn the tide. Sophomore forward Donovan Jack had 10 points, six rebounds and three steals. Freshman guard Graham Woddward scored nine points on three 3-pointers. Junior guard D.J. Newbill had a mostly brutal game, shooting 3-for-12 with seven points and five turnovers, but his late steal was basically a game-winner and he hit a three-pointer with 2:25 left that began what could also be called a 13-1 game-closing run.

Ferrell had 16 points and six assists for Indiana, but was 4-for-13 from the field and had four turnovers. Sheehey had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and three assists, but he finished the game one short of 1,000 for his career and his late turnover was painful. Freshman guard Stanford Robinson had 11 points and three assists, but also the critical foul. Vonleh had eight points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, but also the problematic turnover.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Because of fundamental collapses for Indiana in so many areas. The Hoosiers committed four turnovers in the last 2:09 to finish with an inexcusable 20 in the game. Penn State was ferocious in the full-court press, but Indiana’s inability to so much as get the ball inbounds speaks badly for everybody from the inbounders who failed to call timeout when it was obvious they were in trouble to the players on the floor who couldn’t find someway to get open to, of course, the coaching staff and Tom Crean himself, who either couldn’t draw something up to make it easier or who simply couldn’t get the players to execute they were asking. It’s hard to collapse at a more basic fundamental level than when you can’t even get the ball inbounds.

Beyond that, Crean did make a good point in the post-game press conference when he said that just as much of the problem was on defense. The turnovers were clearly the unquestionable worst problem, but Indiana also picked very inopportune moments to leave shooters open, allowing Penn State to stay in the game. The Nittany Lions hit eight three pointers with Graham Woodword hitting three of them, John Johnson hitting two and Brandon Taylor hitting two. The scouting report, assuredly, made clear that these were players the Hoosiers couldn’t leave open outside the arc and it clearly happened.

Up until the last three minutes, there were lots of positives for the Hoosiers. They shot 51.2 percent from the field, won the rebounding battle 30-24 and had 14 assists on 21 baskets. And with 3:19 to go, the game absolutely had the look of a positive step in Indiana’s maturation process after they’d just seen two double-digit leads slip in the last two road games. Instead, they just experienced an implosion that was even more painful.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: This loss is devastating for the Hoosiers on so many levels. Regardless of the opponent, the style of the defeat will stick with the Hoosiers for sometime. It’s the sort of loss that makes a team never feel truly comfortable with a lead and always wonder if the bottom will fall out. It’s the sort of defeat that creates “here-we-go-again” feelings in future games that take a number of wins to get over.

In terms of postseason, it’s pretty close to crippling. NCAA Tournament hopes were at best an outside shot before this. Now, it’s pretty much going to take a miracle for the Hoosiers to get in. Twenty wins, and 10 in the league is probably the minimum requirement with losses to Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State on the resume, plus exactly zero high-quality non-conference wins. Getting to that mark means six wins in the last seven games — a slate that includes home games against Ohio State and Iowa and road games against Wisconsin and Michigan.

And, also, Crean might take as much heat for this loss as any he’s had at Indiana. Judging by Twitter, message boards, and a fairly nasty update to his wikipedia page on Wednesday night, the natives are quite restless at his performance and would have at least liked to have seen him take blame for this one in a more direct manner that he did. That’s certainly not to suggest that Crean’s seat is anywhere close to warm let alone hot, but he might be best served by staying away from the internet and talk radio this week.


COACH CREAN:  Penn State deserves credit.  They persevered throughout the game.  They never lost their belief in it, and we gave into the pressure of the game a bit.  The two things that hurt us throughout the night were turnovers and the ridiculousness of those, but more importantly tonight is the scouting report defense.
It’s the greatest form of toughness.  Everybody thinks they understand toughness.  Toughness is consistency.  It’s consistency of a purpose.  The three words, “do your job,” when you can do that consistently, then you’ve got a form of toughness.  When you break down and you give in and you make mistakes, this league is good enough to make you pay.
This team was first in attempts, in attempts and percentage, and we were going to try to take away the paint.  We were going to try to take away the three‑point line.  Same thing we did against Michigan who had much of the same ability.  They could get to the basket.  They could get to the three‑point line.  They could score.  We were the same team that did that a week ago and did it with a lot of success.  The bottom line is when you don’t stay true to what your job is if that means I don’t leave my man, I don’t leave my man.  That means I force him left, I force him left.  If it means I communicate a screen, I communicate a screen.  If it means I switch, I switch.
When those break down enough, that’s where we never took their belief away from them in this game because we made too many mistakes along the way that allowed them to stay in it.
The turnovers, there is no excuse.  I’d like to say, you know what, if we did this, if we did that.  What if we just aired it out and slowed it down?  I’m not sure that’s the answer.  We need easy baskets.  So you have to run some that we just‑‑ we lost this game defensively by allowing them to stay in it with mistakes and then the pressure of the game got to us a little bit.  Couple five‑second calls and a couple of‑‑ I keep going to the word awareness, and that is the nicest word I can use, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to coach, and we’ll get right back at it.  As I said to these guys, any night, anybody can beat anybody in this league.  We’ve done it, they’ve done it.  Anybody can do it.
The only way we’ll be able to get better is to come back and get better.  So that’s all we can do.  So go ahead.

Q.  Talk about that five‑second call? 
COACH CREAN:  That’s lack of awareness.  You have to call a timeout when you take the ball out there.  I would say panic.  I would say guys not rolling back.  You’re going to be held.  I mean, there is no question about that.  Couple of call, couple weren’t, you’ve got to play through it.
The bottom line is you’ve just got to make a basketball play.  You’ve got to make a play.  The press offense, you just roll back and screen and roll back.  Use the baseline, pass fake, have the awareness, okay.  When you can’t get it in, call the timeout sitting right there.  I mean, that’s part of it.

Q.  In terms of the last five minutes, the offense sort of came to a halt.  You guys didn’t make a basket. 
COACH CREAN:  I haven’t looked at the offense yet.  I’m sure you’re right.  What is the question?  What happened to us?

Q.  Yeah, you guys were scoring pretty effectively before then.  Definitely high‑shooting early. 
COACH CREAN:  We had a few turnovers in there.  I don’t have a great answer on that until I watch the film.  But when you’re trying to‑‑ you’ve got to have more than one or two guys that can get the ball where it needs to be.  We missed some shots, a couple of quick ones, but I mean, I’m rambling now.  I’ve got to go watch the film.  So it obviously wasn’t good enough, but I’ve got to watch it.

Q.  What were you hoping to get on that last play? 
COACH CREAN:  Yogi or Will on the side.  We needed a screener there.  So get the screener to the middle, just get into an open‑court play.  Get a jumper, get to the rim or throw it to Will in a one‑on‑one type situation there.  We put (No Microphone) in the middle of the floor.

Q.  This deep into the season, how do you get there? 
COACH CREAN:  We’ve got to go back to work tomorrow.  I can’t psycho analyze it.  We’ve got to go back to work tomorrow.  It is what it is.  This team beat Michigan a week ago.  It’s just we’ve got to come back.  That’s the way it is.  I’ll be there.  You know what I mean?  That’s the bottom line.  We’ve got to get ourselves ready to go beat Purdue.  That is the bottom line.

Q.  You mentioned the defensive guys getting out of position.  Did you see that throughout the game? 
COACH CREAN:  Absolutely, yeah.  Absolutely, we showed them at halftime again.  We gave up No. 3 is in there.  No. 3, right?  No. 3 is in there to do one thing.  Take three‑point shots, and we gave off him, and he had three threes tonight.  So I don’t know if we make a lot of changes defensively, all right, because the same type of mentality of not coming off shooters who beat Michigan a week ago.
So it really becomes, I don’t have a better answer for you than it’s lack of‑‑ it’s just you can’t just play to play at this level, and it’s not just the youth.  We’ve got a fifth‑year senior out there that’s got to play better.  But we’ve got a fourth‑year senior that’s got to play better.  We’ve got all to do better.
So bottom line is that that’s, in this league when guys are penetrators and they’re kicking at the shooters, we won a Big Ten championship at Michigan last year doing the same type of thing.  Trying to take the outlets away from Trey Burke, you know, we win the championship.  So it’s just a matter of being able to carry out the game plan.

Q.  You mentioned when you had them in timeouts or were they panicked in the huddle the last couple of minutes?  Did you see some things that could help you? 
COACH CREAN:  I was very calm.  I was very calm.  I don’t think we had our‑‑ our leadership could have been better at the end.


Q.  How devastating is it to lose a game like that? 
YOGI FERRELL:  It’s not very fun to lose a game like that.  It all comes down to execution at the end of the game.  It just has to get a lot better.  We just can’t panic on the court.  We’ve just got to stay true to ourselves and execute.

Q.  What do you feel happened on the inbounds situation there that led to the turnovers?  What happened there? 
WILL SHEEHEY:  We panicked.  We didn’t stay true to our scouting report.

Q.  Was it something that you felt like at any point it snowballed and they gained so much momentum so fast there late? 
WILL SHEEHEY:  We just didn’t execute.  You have to play each possession like it’s the last possession.

Q.  What did they do with the press?  I don’t think they manned you up, but what did they do to make it difficult for you to get the ball out? 
YOGI FERRELL:  Yeah, kind of just manning up.  Kind of doubling me, and then kind of forcing other guys to catch them.  Just couldn’t get the ball in at the time.

Q.  Coach talked about a lack of leadership down at the end of the game.  What do you guys feel you could have done better?  What do you think that coach was looking for? 
YOGI FERRELL:  You know, I think Coach was looking for when a team goes on a run like Penn State did, guys like myself and Will to get our team riled back up.  Because some guys may have down faces just a little bit just because they went on that run.  So it’s just on our part to tell these guys we’re not going to lose this game, and I think that’s what he was looking for.

Q.  Did you guys sense panic down the stretch and when?  At what point did you start to look around and say we’re starting to lose it? 
WILL SHEEHEY:  We just didn’t execute.  We didn’t stick to the scouting report.  We really just didn’t make plays toward the end.

Q.  There were three turnovers at the end and 20 in the game.  That’s been a problem for this team all season long.  Is there an explanation for why it hasn’t been cured? 
YOGI FERRELL:  We’ve just got to get more intelligent on our team, I feel like.  It starts, of course, with me and Will, always does.  We’re the front runners for that.  We’ve just got to be more intelligent with the ball and how we play the game.


  1. Let’s swap coaches with UCLA. I am tired of Crean. I wanna see the Alford boys (particularly Bryce) in candy stripes.

  2. Have not written on this blog in the past, but read it everyday. Today, I can not help myself. This has been a very difficult year to watch this IU team play. So much potential, but so little to show for it except for inconsistency and multiple turnovers every game. I know they are a young team, but this is the middle of February, some maturity ought to be evolving by now. I have been a Tom Crean supporter since he came to IU, but even in my mind his coaching ability is starting to come into question. These last two games has put a bad taste in my mouth that I can not explain. IU basketball runs through my veins, but I do believe I am now officially through watching games for the remainder of this season. I can’t take anymore double digit leads being lost to teams that IU ought to beat. Now ready for baseball, hoping the Reds can get past the first round of playoffs. As for IU basketball, hoping next year will be a better year.

  3. I’m reminded of the Saturday several years ago when IU’s football team went into Columbus and beat Ohio State. OSU’s coach, John Cooper- who was a great recuiter but whose teams always underachieved- called it the ‘darkest day in Ohio State football.’ Hmmm…..

  4. Crean said before the UI in December “we are getting better” and lost In overtime.Then before last night game “we are almost there”.I guess a lost without overtime,means we are “almost there”!.
    I have watch IU basketball since 1950 and I know there could have been a worse defeat in that time, but I can’t recall the game.

  5. Just a terrible loss for Indiana. However, the Lady Hoosiers have an “opportunity” game (expected to lose so NO downside, only an upside) against a great PSU squad. Let’s all attend and ROAR for IU and BOO against PSU and return the favor! The women are good and next year’s recruits are awesome! Tyra Buss for President in 2040!

  6. Like Hoosier Bob I have been watching since the 1950’s and seen good and bad basketball. But I do not recall a worse played or coached final five minutes of a game.

  7. Its been twenty years since we have been elite and it does not seem that will change anytime soon. It appears last year is probably the best we will ever see under this coach. With nothing up front next year I don’t see how that is any better. Really, really depressing. This team may not even make the NIT this year!

  8. Tom Crean is probably the worst game coach I have ever seen at IU or anywhere else for that matter. The way he substitutes baffles me more every game. SMH.

  9. To Kirk ’81. You are referring to IU beating ninth ranked OSU in Columbus 31-10. It was head coach Earle Bruce not John Cooper who dubbed it “the darkest day in Ohio State football history”.

    It was great, I was there. Final score didn’t seem that close. Great IU win.

  10. Game stunk. Coach is stinky too. Should see improvement by now from the start of the season and there isn’t any. And I don’t want Alford or his son here. Bryce doesn’t impress me.

  11. How strange that we’re still only one game in the loss column behind four teams fighting for 5th place…And we’re only two games in the loss column behind 4th place OSU.

    It sounds horribly miserable but the next three games are all very winnable games. Come out of Purdue with a win and there is still a glimmer…

    The survivors of the middle of the pack is far from decided.

  12. Weeks ago I said that it would come down to the Purdue game…I still believe it to be the case.

  13. Like another post, I read everyday, but only post occasionally as most comments touch on my thoughts. This game is the straw that broke the camels back. As the season has progressed, I have come to the realization (had thoughts before) that Tom has trouble coaching down the stretch. Sometimes he comes in with a good game plan, but if that doesn’t work, he doesn’t adjust or given the guidance the team needs.

    Why did he have 3 different people taking the ball out in the final minutes? Why was Hollowell in there and not Troy? Did Tom not know that they would double team Yogi on the last play? Duh…

    I saw no guidance from the coach whatsoever in the last two minutes. This loss is on Crean and you can’t blame young players.

    I agree with the earlier post about substitutions. It started at the beginning of the game. Stanford was hot and he was the first person subbed out. I have played a lot of basketball over the years and you don’t pull your hot player out first!

    Another point, why was Gordon shooting toward the end of the game when we needed a bucket bad? All I can say is that was as frustrated as I have ever been watching the Hoosiers. I can’t say that I have watched them since the 50’s, but I have been a die hard IU basketball fan since the early 80’s and this is the worst exhibition I have ever witnessed in Assembly Hall! Saturday’s game is going to be another embarrassment I am afraid. That pains me….

  14. I’ve seen alot of bad losses but this one is among the worst! Why on earth wasn’t the offense run through Sheehy since he had a mismatch most of the game? Growing tired of Crean’s foolish excuses post-game also. Here we come NIT !

  15. Harv you continually state what IU “can” do, everyone here understands that, however what you fail to see is that they aren’t good enough to do any of the things you suggest.

  16. Wolfem, thanks for the correction. Must have been one of life’s more satisfying moments for you, soaking up the misery of 100,000 jerks in the Horseshoe. But, to my original point – Bruce recruited good players but he couldn’t win consistently. If he were a basketball coach, he might have lost to Northwestern and Penn State at home.

  17. Coach Crean has done what we brought him here to do…get the program back on the right track after the hiring of Sampson.However anyone who knows anything about basketball knows Indiana can never win a National Championship with Crean.He is simply not a bench coach…never has been…never will be.Indiana had one chance to get it right and they failed.After firing Coach Knight they had no choice but to name Davis interim coach.He should have been fired after that season and Steve Alford hired.Has Steve won anything….NO…but put him in the state of Indiana along with his Dad whom every high schoo, coach in Indiana loves…and Indiana would win a championship in 3-4 years.I don’t know why Steve would leave UCLA for Indiana…that would be taking a demotion.Brad Stevens will stay at Boston for 2-3 more years.That will be to late for IU.Maybe Coach Marshall at Witchita State?Even Dakich said IU should have hired Alford.The board of trustees at IU have no clue how to run the sports programs…IU football has gone thru more coaches than the Cleveland Browns.

  18. Rico- ‘giving up on this team’ ?? So do you believe IU will make the NCAA tourney? I say no. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on this team, it means I have respect for the sport of basketball and the other great players and coaches around the country and do I think IU will be dancing this year? NOPE. Doesn’t mean I’ve given up on this team. It means I don’t run from reality.

  19. Hoosier1987— Alford was born in IN(he never chose that), he owes IN nothing and he’s done nothing in his life post IU to show that he has any interest in IN. I don’t blame him. Its hilarious to hear people say that because a kid is an IN kid they assume he wants to coach at IU. Look outside the box and realize that Steve Alford and his family have a great life, maybe even a better life, than most IN families. He doesn’t want to coach at IU, he never did want to coach at IU. Just because he was good at shooting a basketball does not mean he wants to be all the other things the old basketball heads in this state want him to be. Life isn’t a movie. Life is real, Steve Alford and his family have shown no desire or interest to coach in Southern IN. Just because he was there from age 18-22 does not mean he considers it heaven on earth. He has traveled the country, he’s seen things you haven’t seen. He’s chosen to move on from IU, kudos to Alford and his family. Just cracks me up to hear people assume Alford wants to spend his life chasing other peoples old crusty dreams.

  20. Wow…You sound so frustrated. Maybe you need somebody to snuggle and warm your heart. The “reality” of life can be very punishing. Where the mystery of love can endure.

  21. I’m young so I am excited about reality and the future, I don’t have to live in the past or fear the present state of the program.

  22. Fab5…sorry to inform you but Alford did want to come to Indiana.His agent was in contact with IU but Alford would not dicuss the IU job until they fired Davis.IU didn’t want to take the chance on firing Davis and not knowing how much Alford would want.His dream job would be IU…don’t think it will ever happen.Thad Matta could be the next coach.He stated IU would be his dream job and even has an IU claus in his contract.He happened to have Oden and Connelly coming and thought they would win it all.

  23. Whatever makes you sleep at might, lol, proof is in the pudding. If he had wanted to be at IU, he would’ve taken towel boy job on Knights staff after bball career over and waited his turn. Instead, dudes a business man and proven professional, he did what’s best for himself and his family aka $$$ over everything, he had no interest, plain and simple. IU was not is not and won’t be the dream job of these top level coaches. It wasn’t during Knights final yrs(that’s why they kept Davis) it wasn’t after Davis(that’s why they had to take scarred Samspon) it wasn’t after Samspon (Glass just said on JMV this week that Crean wasn’t their first choice) so get over the 35+ old allure of IU bball. Crean came to IU because “It’s a HUGE payday” and not because “It’s Indiana!”

  24. You’re a young smart-ass is basically it.

    And the reality is that the current Hoosier team has not been eliminated from anything.

    In that respect, you are living in the past. You are assuming that past performance makes their future hopeless. You are assuming that the future is already determined.

    Your attitude in punk defeatist and not visionary or adaptable. You are more stale and negative in tone than most elderly people I know. The mind and heart can be ageless. It’s only the shell that fools the naive.

  25. Never once said future is hopeless, never once said it’s determined, never once said Indiana’s eliminated. I said they won’t make the NCAA tourney. I’m an upbeat and positive person, I don’t tie my life’s excitement to eight 20 yr olds’ performance on a basketball court. I think the future will be fine so I’m not afraid to say IU isn’t a good team this year, that’s not a negative outlook, it’s an educated and experienced one. You are so worried about the state of IU bball you are afraid to enjoy the process of down years and failures. This team isn’t good, but life will move on, the sooner you understand that the more well rounded you’ll become.

  26. Fab5,,,your name says enough for me….Fab5 equals losers.Crean was IU third or fourth choice.The coaches in the Big 10 do not like Crean…Izzo said himself that Crean should stop talking so much.If you don’t think IU is Alford’s or Matta’s dream job…that’s ok you can have your thoughts…however I know different.Nothing will happen at IU until after next season.I see no reason that IU will be any better next year than this year.Two years in a row of no tournament play and Glass will have no choice but to fire Crean.Stevens will be IU’s #1 choice.If Alford doesn’t win big UCLA will also fire him after next season and if Ohio State doesn’t improve Matta could also be on the hot seat.Crean could coach at a smaller school…he gets out coached every night in the Big 10.Pat Chambers from Penn State made Crean look like a 6th grade coach.Alford was UCLA’s fourth choice also.He will not survive there.Alford has won more games than Crean and knows more about coaching than Crean will ever know.Crean is from Michigan…he would leave IU in five minutes for Mich.St. if they offered him that job after Izzo.Alford will always have IU in his blood.I was at the 25th ann.NCAA Championship and he recieved a standing ovation.Alford is the one who put it all together and begged Coach Knight to attend but he would not.He already has one of the best ever high school coaches from Indiana on his staff at UCLA and would bring him with him to IU…IU would own the state of Indiana.So you can live in the dream world that Alford wants nothing to do with IU…I say either Alford..Matta..or Stevens is here after next season.

  27. Shouldn’t Dan Dakich be considered to coach IU since he knows it all already. He could add Pat Knight to his staff which would be a winning combination. Dakich is doing a disservice to college basketball and IU by not sharing his brilliant coaching mind. C’mon Dan throw your hat in the ring and save Hoosier nation!

  28. I continue to be amazed by the presumption that Brad Stevens will fail with the Celtics. I’m somewhat surprised by the assumption that Alford will fail at UCLA (but simply by birth rite will be so much better for Indiana than UCLA), but I’m more stunned at this notion that Stevens has no chance to be in Boston in five years. You may have heard this somewhere, but he’s kinda good and the Celtics are going to have a chance to actually rebuild.

  29. Completely agree Dustin. Also let’s not forget who Brad Stevens is. He’s calculated and smart. He chose Boston. He will succeed and he wants to be in the nba and not the NCAA, how do I know this? Because Brad Stevens coaches the Celtics.

  30. Hoosier1987–Please return your time machine to 2014. Its time to face the truth. Let go of the past man and deal with the reality of today!

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