Scrappiness not enough for Penn State

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Scrappiness not enough for Penn State

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana coach Archie Miller gave his team one basic instruction Tuesday night.

Find a way to win.

The Hoosiers seem to have figured it out. Juwan Morgan cleaned up on the dirty work by scoring 21 points with 11 rebounds, Josh Newkirk finished with 16 points and Devonte Green made four free throws in the final 7.5 seconds to seal a 74-70 victory over Penn State.

"Right now, it's about playing to win, going out and getting wins," Miller said. "Tonight, against a good Penn State team, I thought we played to win. We weren't great by any stretch of the imagination, but we were locked in."

Easy? No way.

But playing with passion, precision, poise and pride is precisely what Indiana's new coach has been stressing and the results are starting to show.

The Hoosiers (10-7, 3-2 Big Ten) have strung together back-to-back wins for the first time in conference play this season and have won four of five -- their best stretch of the season.

While the stats and style points left plenty to be desired, the consistency Miller has been searching for was there.

"We have done that twice, had the big win and then a falloff and we addressed that," said Collin Hartman, who had 10 points and five rebounds despite playing with a brace around his sore right shoulder. "That's something we have to get better at and continue to work on and that is you have to come ready every day."

It was that kind of game.

Newkirk departed with 8:38 to play, had his mouth and nose checked by team doctors and returned for the closing minutes after being cleared.

Morgan, meanwhile, started fast and finished strong as he continued to match up with bigger, stronger players as center De'Ron Davis continues to recover from an injured lower right leg.

And Green, who continues to figure out his role, scored seven of his 13 points in the final 6:20.

Penn State (12-6, 2-3) sure didn't make it easy, though.

After Robert Johnson's 3-pointer gave Indiana a 47-36 lead with 15:15 to go, the Nittany Lions charged back with a 7-2 spurt and made it 56-53 on Carr's short floater with 7:22 left.

Indiana answered with a basket from Morgan and Green's 3.

The Nittany Lions continued fighting back. They got within four twice in the final minute and then made it 70-67 on Tony Carr's 3-pointer with 8 seconds left. After two free throws from Green, Nazeer Bostick made another 3 with 1.5 seconds left to close to 72-70 before Green sealed it with two free throws.

Carr finished with 28 points and Lamar Stevens had 20.

"We're going to compete that's for sure, but we've got to learn how to finish now." Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.

Big picture
Penn State: Stevens and Carr could cause matchup problems for most Big Ten teams, and the Nittany Lions' defense will make things tough, too. Penn State certainly has improved, but they can't afford to be missing key pieces as they did Tuesday.

Indiana: It was a gritty, gutsy performance for the Hoosiers, the kind Miller enjoys watching. He knew the Hoosiers needed to play tough on both ends of the floor. Though they were far from perfect, they were good enough.

Key numbers
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are 3-20 all-time at Assembly Hall. ... Mike Watkins had 10 points and 12 rebounds. ... Stevens had seven rebounds. ... Penn State shot 50 percent from the field, was 6 of 14 on 3s, but had 14 turnovers.

Indiana: The Hoosiers have won 11 straight in the series when scoring at least 72 points. ... Johnson had 10 points and five rebounds. ... The Hoosiers bench had a 25-1 scoring advantage. ... Indiana was 6 of 27 on 3s and had nine turnovers.

Missing piece
Penn State played short-handed Tuesday because guard Josh Reaves didn't make the trip.

Shortly before the game, the athletic department issued a statement on the absence.

"He remained in State College to attend to some academic concerns," it said, noting the team hoped Reaves would only miss one game.

Reaves averages 10.8 points and is a key defender. He was ranked 15th nationally in steals (2.47) and needs two more to move into the top 10 on Penn State's career list.

Up next
Penn State: Hosts Nebraska on Friday.

Indiana: Plays its second straight home game Sunday against Northwestern.

Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

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Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Carsen Edwards scored 27 points to lead sixth-ranked Purdue to a 76-73 victory over Penn State on Sunday night.

Dakota Mathias added 18 points and Isaac Haas had 12 points and six rebounds for the Boilermakers (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten), who snapped a season-worst three-game skid.

Tony Carr had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, Shep Garner had 17 points and Lamar Stevens had 13 points and six rebounds for the Nittany Lions (19-10, 9-7). The loss ended a stretch of six wins in seven games.

Ryan Cline's 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining gave Purdue a 61-58 lead, and the Boilers never trailed the rest of the way.

It wasn't easy for a Purdue team in search of the same offensive flair that made the Boilermakers unbeatable during a program-record 19-game winning streak that stretched from November until a 64-63 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 7. It became more difficult without starting forward Vincent Edwards, one of the team's most consistent players.

Vincent Edwards sat on the bench wearing a walking boot after spraining his left ankle in practice on Saturday. The team disclosed the injury in a statement before tipoff.

It was another uncharacteristic game for the Boilermakers. They trailed by as much nine points in the first half, during which they shot 42.3 percent from the field and went 2 for 9 from 3-point range.

Penn State led 36-32 at halftime.

Big picture 
Penn State: Despite another poor offensive night by Purdue, the Nittany Lions proved their recent hot streak, which included a 79-56 blowout of No. 8 Ohio State, may not have been a fluke. Even after the Boilermakers found a groove in the second half, Penn State still never trailed by more than 11 points.

Purdue: After dropping three straight conference games and falling in the Big Ten standings, the Boilermakers needed to get back on track quickly with just two regular season games remaining.

Up next 
Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Michigan on Wednesday.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are at Illinois on Thursday.

Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

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Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Shep Garner scored 16 points and Tony Carr had 15 points to lead Penn State to a 74-52 victory over Illinois on Sunday night.

Illinois missed its first nine second-half shots and didn't score for seven-plus minutes as Penn State went on a 12-0 run to make it 49-36. The Nittany Lions (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) led by at least nine points the rest of the way.

Carr hit three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists. Lamar Stevens finished with 11 points, while Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves scored 10 apiece, for Penn State.

Illinois had the lead for more than 15 minutes in the first half, but squandered it late. Carr air balled a 3-pointer from the right wing, but Jamari Wheeler grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Garner, who nailed a corner 3.

On the ensuing play, Mark Alstork stepped on the baseline while inbounding the ball, giving Penn State possession with 3.6 seconds left. Carr scored a layup before the buzzer to take a one-point lead into the break.

The Nittany Lions shot 54.5 percent from the field, outscored Illinois 34-12 in the paint and won their fourth consecutive game against the Illini. Penn State has won six of its last seven overall.

Leron Black led Illinois (12-14, 2-11) with 18 points.

Big Picture
After finishing three games below .500 last season, the Nittany Lions continued their impressive turnaround this year. With a strong finish in conference play, Penn State could make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.

After scoring career-high 32-points in a 78-69 loss to Wisconsin on Thursday, Trent Frazier was held to just six against Penn State. He has been Illinois' best player in conference play, and without a strong performance from him the Illini struggled.

Up Next
The Illini will face Indiana on the Wednesday night. Illinois knocked off the Hoosiers on Jan. 24 for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Penn State returns home to face No. 14 Ohio State. The Buckeyes sit atop the Big Ten after a one-point win over No. 3 Purdue last week.