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What We Learned: Indiana Hoosiers 110, Penn State Nittany Lions 102 (3OT)

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What can we take away from Indiana’s incredible win over Penn State?

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State traveled to Assembly Hall last night to take on Indiana in a battle of teams looking to get to .500 in conference play. The Hoosiers fended off the relentless Nittany Lions, finally defeating PSU 110-104 in triple overtime.

Indiana was without OG Anunoby and Justin Blackmon Jr. due to injuries, and the team needed every ounce of the 85 combined points from Thomas Bryant, Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk.

PSU nearly avenged a demoralizing loss from Jan. 18, a game in which Indiana won 78-75 courtesy of a Blackmon Jr. buzzer beater three-pointer.

Penn State treaded dangerously in the first half, as Indiana’s lead hovered around 12 points before a mini streak cut the Hoosier deficit to just 46-39 at halftime. In that first 20 minutes, PSU were essentially living and dying from three-point territory, shooting 7-for-15 from deep.

Penn State kept their foot in the door in the second half, and gutted its way into an overtime session behind strong performances from Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. A controversial layup from Indiana’s Josh Newkirk as time expired forced another overtime session.

Indiana jumped to a commanding lead in the second OT, but the Nittany Lions did not budge. Carr overcame a 1-for-3 performance in the first half to rattle off 21 points after the break—including a crucial pair of free throws to force a third extra session.

Indiana withheld one last burst from Penn State and entered the win column in the third overtime session.

Let’s take a look at what we learned from this game.

What We Learned:

1. Thomas Bryant rose to the occasion.

Phased with the unfortunate absence of key starters Anunoby and Blackmon Jr., the Hoosiers needed guys to compensate for the missing scoring threats.

Bryant did just that.

Bryant’s performance is the culmination of the play that was expected from him this season. Sure, he has played well, but failed to make the significant stride of progression that analysts and scouts alike anticipated.

Bryant fell in love with the three-pointer. It happens to a lot of talented big guys, especially in today’s version of the game. Bryant has the range, but he is clearly better suited to play within the paint.

The performance from the touted NBA prospect last night was a glimpse of what Bryant could be both down the stretch for Indiana, as well as at the next level. Bryant showed an array of post moves that many did not even knew he possessed, pouring in a career-high 31 points.

2. Give Penn State one more year.

All things considered, this has been a quality season for the Nittany Lions. The team is littered with young experience, but they have yet to click as a unit on all cylinders. A win against a ranked Minnesota has shown that PSU is on the cusp of hanging with the big boys—just not quite yet.

Two heartbreaking defeats against Indiana illustrates the foreshadowing of PSU developing into a Big Ten elite. Keep in mind: Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr are freshmen.

Freshmen.

3. Indiana saved its NCAA tournament chances.

No, I’m not being dramatic: IU was clinging to a March Madness bid heading into last night.

In November, the Hoosiers were projected to be a top seed in the NCAA tournament, but their unexpected shortcomings leave their next their three games to be pivotal in respects to their likelihood of making the big dance.

Naturally, Indiana has Wisconsin on the road and Minnesota at Assembly Hall next up on the schedule. An 0-2 record in these two games could leave a case for voters to disregard them, leaving them in the shambles of the NIT.

The Hoosier motto: win at least one.

Overall

There’s no debating that this game was a crazy one for a conference that has seen its fair share of insanity this season. Nonetheless, Indiana won the game as most expected it to and will move ahead. Penn State will have to try and regroup.