Scrappiness not enough for Penn State

USA Today Images

Scrappiness not enough for Penn State


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.

Indiana at No. 4 Penn State: Nittany Lions seek best start in nearly a decade


Indiana at No. 4 Penn State: Nittany Lions seek best start in nearly a decade

No. 4 Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. Indiana (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Beaver Stadium, State College
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Scouting Penn State
The fourth-ranked Nittany Lions (4-0) nipped Iowa 21-19 last week, when Trace McSorley hit wide receiver Juwan Johnson, a native of Glassboro, N.J., for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired. Running back Saquon Barkley, who leads the FBS with an average of 253.3 all-purpose yards per game, piled up a school-record 358 against the Hawkeyes, including 211 on the ground, on 28 attempts. He has rushed for 518 yards (7.8 per carry), and has 23 receptions for a Big Ten-leading 335 yards. Defensive end Shareef Miller, a Philadelphia native, leads the team with six tackles for loss, two sacks and two hurries. He recorded a safety last week against the Hawkeyes, while wearing No. 19 in honor of fellow end Torrence Brown, who has been lost for the season with a knee injury.

Scouting Indiana
Morgan Ellison ran 25 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns as the Hoosiers (2-1) beat Georgia Southern 52-17 last week. J-Shun Harris, who is third in the FBS with an average of 26.1 yards per punt return, also ran one back for a touchdown for the second straight week. The Hoosiers rested four starters in the game, and saw four regulars depart for health reasons, including starting quarterback Richard Lagow. Lagow is, however, expected to play this week. He has clicked on 58 percent of his passes, for 564 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions. His backup, Peyton Ramsey, has also played in all three games to date. Wide receiver Simmie Cobbs, who missed most of last season because of injury, has 18 catches. Linebacker Tegray Scales has 26 tackles.

The Lions lead the all-time series 19-1, and emerged with a 45-31 victory last year in Bloomington.

Storyline to watch
Indiana bottled up Barkley last year, limiting him to 58 yards on 33 attempts. The Lions nonetheless rallied from deficits of 24-14 and 31-28, as McSorley threw for 332 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a score.

What’s at stake?
PSU has not been 5-0 since 2008, when it shared the conference title.

Penn State 42, Indiana 21

Potential 2nd-round targets for Sixers in NBA draft: Centers/power forwards

Potential 2nd-round targets for Sixers in NBA draft: Centers/power forwards

The Sixers appear to have zeroed in on Markelle Fultz now that they’ve traded up to No. 1 in the NBA draft. But what about all of those second-round picks?

With four second-rounders, the Sixers could go in just about any direction.

Will they select the best player available, a player that fits a need or a draft-and-stash candidate from overseas?

Here’s a look at 10 players the Sixers could have their eyes on in the second round of the 2017 NBA draft.

Jordan Bell: Power forward, 6-9/227, Oregon
This is looking more and more like a pipe dream by the day. Bell’s buzz continues to grow as the draft nears and some mocks now have him sneaking into the end of the first round. 

However, if he is there early in the second, the Sixers would be wise to pounce.

Bell was the defensive anchor (Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year) and a rebounding machine for Oregon. He averaged 8.8 rebounds a night last season and really made his name in the NCAA Tournament when he grabbed double-digit boards in every game during the Ducks’ run to the Final Four.

With a high motor and ability to play above the rim on both ends, Bell is definitely a guy the Sixers should keep their eye on. After all, you don’t come across "a Dennis Rodman-like player” that often in the draft (see story).

Johnathan Motley: Power forward/center, 6-9/230, Baylor
If Bell is off the board, the Sixers could opt for the similarly-skilled Motley.

The lanky big man covers a lot of ground with a 7-4 wingspan. Motley combined that length with supreme agility to be a terror for opponents at Baylor.

He averaged 17.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting and 9.9 rebounds last season as a junior with the Bears as he received the Karl Malone award as the nation’s top power forward.

While Motley doesn’t provide much versatility and is coming off surgery in April for a torn meniscus suffered during the NCAA Tournament, he is well worth a second-round selection for the Sixers.

Thomas Bryant: Center, 6-10/241, Indiana
Bryant brings the similar length (7-6 wingspan) and physicality to the court as the first two players mentioned. He’s a bruiser down low and loves to finish with authority at the rim.

That powerful demeanor resulted in 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season for the Hoosiers.

However, what makes Bryant intriguing is his improved three-point shooting. The 19-year-old big made 5 of 15 attempts (33.3 percent) from long range as a freshman before connecting on 23 of 60 tries (38.3 percent) as a sophomore (see story).

With the emphasis being placed on shot making from all positions in today’s NBA, that could be just the skill that gets Bryant’s name called.

Alec Peters: Power forward, 6-9/225, Valparaiso
If it’s shot making the Sixers want, Peters is their guy.

Peters is a dead-eye shooter from just about anywhere on the floor and in any situation. He can pull up off the dribble, find space off the pick-and-roll or simply spot up for a jumper. 

Even after shooting a career-low 36.3 percent from three-point range as a senior, he still finished with a 41.6 mark from long range during his four years at Valpo.

Peters averaged 23.0 points (eighth in the nation) and 10.1 rebounds last season to be named Horizon League Player of the Year.

The NBA certainly offers a higher caliber of players than the Horizon League and Peters will have to do all he can to survive defensively, but his level of shooting ability will make that easy to overlook.

Jonah Bolden: Power forward, 6-10/227, Serbia
There are few international prospects projected to go in the second round that are worth getting excited about (French center Mathias Lessort and Slovenian small forward Vlatko Cancar could be the only ones), so let’s go with a player that has a bit of history in United States.

Bolden was born in Australia, but he moved to the U.S. with his family at 17 years old and played his final season of high school ball in the states. He followed that up by attending UCLA, where he redshirted a year and then averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards in 21.7 minutes a game.

Bolden felt his skill set as a ball-handler and perimeter shooter weren’t being used correctly with the Bruins, so he bolted for the professional ranks in Serbia. It’s worked out so far as he put up 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three in his first season with KK FMP Beograd. That was enough to earn him the Adriatic League Top Prospect award, which has become pretty prestigious after NBA draft picks such as Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic won it in recent years.

There have previously been some issues to dig through with Bolden both on and off the court. But with NBA-ready skills of his own and his father to pass down nearly two decades of professional basketball knowledge (mainly in Australia’s NBL), that is more than enough to take a risk in the second round.

Others to keep an eye on: Lessort, Purdue PF/C Caleb Swanigan, Utah PF Kyle Kuzma.