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Indiana MBB outlasts Penn State in OT 87-85

by | Dec 31, 2020 | Basketball Blogs, Headlines | 0 comments

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – This was the Big Ten toughness we’ve waited to see from Indiana.
You know, the game where the Hoosiers will themselves to victory against a relentless opponent that refuses to quit, smash through the adversity that comes from an 0-2 Big Ten start.
This was the Rob Phinisee we knew could take charge, earlier struggles be darned.
On a cold and wintry night, IU (6-4 overall) made play after play, refused to buckle against Penn State tenacity, defended ferociously when it mattered most and hung on for an 87-85 overtime thriller.
“We’re very excited to get the losing streak off our minds,” coach Archie Miller said. “It weighs on you. The Big Ten is so daunting.
“We had to play through the pressure of being down. We found a way. This was a big one.”
No one came up bigger than Phinisee, the junior who ran the show at the end of regulation, and then overtime. Forget the fact he’s lost his starting job to freshman Trey Galloway. With the game on the line, Phinisee attacked through chaos and hit the twisting jumper that won it.
“(Penn State) blew up the last play,” Miller said. “Rob didn’t panic. He kept it, squared up, got into the paint. He got a good look. He’s made some big shots for us.”
Phinisee’s 11 points matched his total from the previous three games. He added three blocks.
“We needed him in a big way,” Miller said “He got key blocks, key deflections. That’s what we need from Rob.
“When he’s not himself, it hurts us. We need Rob to get to the basket, make guys better, be more aggressive. He’s a tone setter on defense.
“A big key to season is how he plays.”
As far as losing his starter’s status, Phinisee said, “I do whatever Coach says. Play team ball.”
The coaching message was clear, he added.
“Do my job and get stops. Make big plays.”
Getting back in the groove, Phinisee said, started with defense.
“Once you get steals and blocks, once you’re locking it up, it translates to offense.”
For long stretches Wednesday night, guards Aljami Durham and Armaan Franklin dueled for best-player-on-the-court honors.  Durham finished with 18 points and four assists. Franklin had 16 points.
They hit big shots, made sharp passes, ran the offense, defended the perimeter and, in short, did what you’d expect two of your best players to do.
And then forward Trayce Jackson-Davis took charge en route to a 21-point, six-rebound effort.
“We will only go as far as veteran players will take us,” Miller said. “That’s what this league is about.”
Don’t forget Galloway, who had 10 points, five assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes.
“Trey was fantastic in terms of his play making,” Miller said. “For his age, he’s as good a playmaker as I’ve seen. He is fearless.”
Must-win urgency produced free-flowing offense that delivered 60-percent shooting for most of the game. The Hoosiers finished at 57 percent.

IU played fast and efficiently, and attacked relentlessly. It got guys the ball when they were in position to score, much of the time in the paint.

As for the defense, Miller said, “We have to buckle down. You can’t score 87 every game. Giving up 85 was the one downer.”
The Hoosiers scored on six of their first eight possessions, played seven guys in less than five minutes, shot 66.7 percent from the field and bolted ahead 12-7.
That was a sign of good offense to come.
What was in essence a five-point play from Durham – he hit a three-pointer, Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry got hit with a technical (he thought Jackson-Davis was out of bounds when he passed to Durham for the three-pointer) and Durham made both free throws – pushed IU ahead 29-20.
The Nittany Lions (3-4) came back with a 6-0 run.
The Hoosiers finished the half shooting 54 percent from the field for a 38-33 lead. Durham set the tone with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting.
Penn State forced ties of 49-49, 51-51 and 53-53 as the clock approached the 12-minute mark before baskets from Jerome Hunter and Phinisee gave the Hoosiers a 57-53 advantage.
Three-pointers from Durham (two) and Phinisee pushed the lead to 12 with 9:56 left.
The Nittany Lions rallied to take an 80-79 lead on guard Sam Sessions’ jumper with 25 seconds left. Jackson-Davis made one of two free throws with 7.7 seconds left to force overtime.
Penn State clung to an 83-82 lead for the longest time, twice missing long three-pointers against an IU defense that shut down the inside. Then Jackson-Davis scored inside, was fouled and completed the three-point play for an 85-83 lead.
The Nittany Lions tied it with a pair of free throws.
Phinisee’s jumper put IU ahead 87-85 with 15 seconds left, and the Hoosiers defense went into shut-down mode.
The first Big Ten victory had arrived.
“Al shot the ball,” Miller said. “Rob made big plays. Hopefully that will be a trend.
“We’re still trying to get our most important guys playing well.”
Indiana vs. Penn State
Postgame Notes
December 30, 2020

• Sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis paced the Hoosiers in scoring with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and six rebounds. The game marked his sixth 20-point game of the season and 12th of his career.

• Senior Aljami Durham tallied 18 points on a career-best four made 3-pointers. He added four assists and a pair of rebounds.

• Sophomore Armaan Franklin continued his double-figure scoring streak with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. Franklin has scored 10-plus points in five-straight games, the longest stretch of his career.

• During the five-game run, the Cathedral graduate has averaged 18.8 points on 54.8% shooting from the floor.

• Junior Rob Phinisee canned the game-winning shot with under 13 second to play on his way to 11 points. He added a career-best three blocks, two rebounds and one assist off the bench.

• Freshman Trey Galloway registered 10 points, five assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes in a starting role. His assist total matched his career-high output from the Butler victory in the Crossroads Classic.

• For the first time this season, and the 12th time under head coach Archie Miller, the Hoosiers had five players reach double figures in the scoring column.

• Redshirt junior Race Thompson compiled seven points, six rebounds, and matched his career best with four blocks.

• Sophomore Jerome Hunter scored four points off the bench.

• Freshman Khristian Lander and freshman Jordan Geronimo each saw limited action in the win.

• The victory gave Archie Miller his 200th career victory as a head coach. He holds an overall record of 200-110, including a mark of 61-47 at Indiana.

• The Hoosiers shot 32-of-56 (57.1%) from the floor for the game, the highest shooting clip of the season. IU knocked down 16-of-25 (64.0%) shots in the second half and started the second frame 11-of-14.

• Indiana blocked a season-high eight Penn State shots.

• IU outscored PSU by a tally of 17-11 at the charity stripe after making 17-of-21 (80.9%) attempts at the free throw line.

• The offense aggressively attacked the lane all game, outscoring Penn State 50-28 in the painted area.

• Indiana held the lead for 38:40 of the 45 minutes.

• After Penn State tied up the game in back-to-back-to-back possessions, the final one at 53-53 at the 12:43 mark in the second half, Indiana rattled of a 13-1 scoring run sparked by a tough post move finish from Jerome Hunter. The run ended on a fastbreak triple from Aljami Durham.

Indiana vs. Penn State
Dec. 30, 2020
Postgame Quotes

Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller
Opening statement
“We are, to say the least, very excited to be able to get the two-game losing streak off our mind. Especially when you are in this league, it weighs on you because it’s so daunting what it ahead. No one had more respect coming in for Penn State than me. I watched those guys play all season long. I’ve watched them shoot the ball like that in every game they have played. They score in absolute bunches. They are a very hard cover. I thought at times we did a good job and at times we didn’t. We had to continue to play through that, continue to play through the pressure of being down. We get the ball to overtime, you name it, whatever needed to happen happened. We found a way. To be able to get this one tonight is a big one. I think more a sense than anything is the confidence in some guys. As we move forward hopefully this picks up our juice a little bit and our energy up. Al Durham and Rob Phinisee tonight, both kids played their butts off the us. There is a big difference in our team when our older guys, our guys that have been most experienced are playing with confidence like they did tonight. Al shot the ball in tonight and Rob made big plays including the game winner basically for us. Hopefully that is going to be a trend we can continue to count on because we are going to need those guys to continue to play that way. I thought Armaan did some really nice things. I was proud of Trey. Five assists, one turnover, 10 points in 36 minutes, is a long time to be playing for a young guy. Obviously Race and Trayce continue to battle it out. Trayce made some big plays and some big free-throws. We are thankful. We are proud of the way we were able to finish the game. I give Penn State a lot of credit. They are a very good team and they can really score the ball. It is amazing how well those guys shoot it. They showed tonight, I think those veteran guys coming back Brockington, the addition of Sessoms, Myreon Jones and also John Harrar and Seth Lundy from a year ago, much improved and they were a very tough game. We are thankful to win the game. We are going to try to get recovered here before Maryland comes to town on Monday.”

Q. On what got Rob Phinisee going and his defense…
“I think Rob coming off of Illinois, I think he knows we need him. I think our team in general knows we have to buckle down a little bit. A couple of our older guys have to stop worrying about how they are playing. They have to working towards helping us win, because the more you do that, the worse it gets. I think Rob practiced pretty hard the last few days coming in. He is the one guy I feel really has his legs under him right now. I think he did a nice job for us in the second half in particular. I think defensively our whole team right now has taken a step back. We dialed our defense back a little bit. I think teams like this tonight with that type of shooting tonight especially at the four position. It creates a lot of matchup problems. Give them credit. They stepped up and made some incredibly difficult shots. The kid Sessoms, a terrific player. A big, big difference, game changer when he comes in. We are going to have to buckle down. This is going to be a film, we are going to be happy with some things offensively, because I think we had some guys make some great plays, but I think defensively we are going to be a little disappointed. We are just not going to be able to score 87 points every game, I think we know that. We give up 85 tonight that is probably the one downer.”

Q. On having Aljami Durham on the floor in a critical game…

“I think it speaks for itself. Al is a senior, started a lot of games, played a lot of minutes. We all know how important he is. I think that goes without saying, all of our veteran guys, guys who have played here are going to have to be at their best. Our team will only go as far as our veteran returning players can take us. That is what this league is about. Guys that have been through the battles, guys who have been through the wars before, those are the guys that have to be able to stand up tall when it is right. I think it speaks for itself. All of our returners. A big reason why we won tonight was Al’s performance. Rob’s performance. I thought Jerome did some nice things when he was in there. No question about it.”

Q. On if something went wrong on the last possession with Rob’s shot…
“Nothing went wrong on the last possession. They did a really good job on defense with switching every screen. I think when you switch every screen, especially like us, switch every screen down on the other end someone had to break you down and try to make a play. You saw it a number of times with their guards. They were able to get downhill on our switches. They were able to get downhill. They did a good job of being able to blow up the last play off the ball. We ran Armaan off a screen. Rob didn’t panic. He kept it and he squared the guy up. To his credit, Rob has been known to make a couple big ones. So, give him credit. When he was able to get into the paint and wiggle around, he is pretty good down there. He got a good look off. It wouldn’t have been a terrible shot if he missed it. Give Penn State a little credit. They did a nice job on the scout. They had a lot of things covered. I think that is the one thing that is unique about our times right now. It seems like every game we play every team knows exactly what you are doing. They can hear every call. They can see every play coming a mile away. Their players can hear the bench from the other end of the floor screaming it out. It is a different time out there. When we play a home game I can’t tell you how funny and weird it feels and I don’t think we will ever get used to. Playing a Big Ten conference game with that intensity and no one in the building. There is no crowd. There is no energy. It is a very frustrating feeling I think with the times. When you are at home. I know it is for me because I’m looking for the crowd to help us a little bit.”

Q. How do you clean up the rebounding…
MILLER: I do not have the rebounding percentages in front of me but we were not rebounding in the first half. I think we were getting about 66 percent back which is not going to get it done. When your team takes 28 to 30 3-pointers and they miss, most of those are going to bounce and your guards are going to have do a great job of going and getting it. Rebounding has been a struggle for us, especially when we play a team that takes a lot three-point shots. Our guards do not really do a great job of mixing it up on the defensive glass. I think the way that they played tonight also brought our front court players away from the basket. This was not a low post game. We have been playing a lot of low post defense where we were in the paint ready to box out. The bigs are either challenging shot because we had to switch or our front court players were up high because we had to defend ball screens so when the shots come up you are not in great rebounding positions. Rebounding is a big struggle for us. Penn State I think coming into the game had a rebound margin in their first two conference games was minus six or eight a game, it was not like they were a powerful rebounding team. I am very impressed with John Harrar. For two years I have been watching him and he absolutely dominates the offensive glass. He is one of the strongest players and I would put him up against anybody. I told them last time we played them that I had no idea why the NFL would not bring that guy on. He is amazing in terms of how strong he is. I cannot really explain how he moves people and crashes the boards. He just gets his hands in there. He had five tonight and a total of 10 rebounds in the game. Just in general our team has to do a better job at rebounding. Like I said, hopefully this just puts a little pep in our step. It has been a tough week with Christmas basically being canceled for our guys in so many ways. We were traveling to Illinois on Christmas day, practicing on Christmas day, and had tough loss to Northwestern in the middle of it. It just has been a tough week and a lot of change for our guys. There has been no let up. Getting this one will hopefully help us get better in the next one.

Q. Talk about Trey Galloway’s play tonight…
MILLER: He was fantastic in his play making tonight and that is what Trey is. I think he has shown that here recently as he has received more minutes and got more confident. He is a terrific playmaker and is as good of a playmaker, especially at his age, in this type of competition. He is fearless in terms of putting the ball on the floor, getting in places, and being able to get out to people. Five assists, one turnover with 10 points. He was plus seven in the game. He and Trayce had a 36-minute period of time where they were plus seven. Clearly, he did a nice job while he was in there and we needed it from him. He was able to score the ball more at the basket tonight. He was able to get to rim. I thought Armaan Franklin did a nice job of getting downhill tonight too. He had some really slick stuff getting into the paint. Our team needs more guys to step up. I think Trey is established right not but the thing he can do for the team is to make guys better.

Q. How much does having Rob Phinisee locked in on defense change things…
MILLER: When Rob is engaged, is in the groove of the game he is as good of an arm ball defender as you are going to play against. He also does some really great things for us off the ball. He has been that way since his freshman year. He is probably the best player on the team 85 percent of the time, realistically. When we were starting to get in the thick of it tonight, we needed him in a big way. I know he had a couple key blocks and a couple key deflections, and at the end of regulation he was great. That is what we need from Rob. He is sort of the pulse of our team in a way. When he is not himself in terms of his own confidence and how he is approaching things, it hurts us. Sometimes Rob has been able to play really good games where he scores a ton. Tonight, he was able to get to the basket which was great for us but we need Rob to handle the ball, get to the basket, make guys better, and be more aggressive with his opportunities. Defensively, he needs to set the tone for us. He is a tone setter. He is the type of guy that gets you off to a good start. I think in general he is a big key to the season. A big key is how he plays. Aljami Durham and Jerome Hunter are the two guys that are off to the hottest starts early this season which gives me hope as we continue to develop our team. If those three guys continue to develop and play confidently then we actually can get a lot better. I do not think we are playing the best we can play. We have had some guys that have been slow out of the gates. I think we are working harder to try to get everybody on our team to feel good about what they are doing for us. I think when guys start to feel better about how they are playing, we are going to be a lot better. That is sort of where we are at right now is that in the opening weeks of the Big Ten, we are still trying to get our most important guys, most experienced, feeling good and playing good. I think Trayce and Race Thompson have done a great job for us. Armaan has played great as of late but to be honest we need Rob, Jerome, and Al to carry that weight. It makes it easier for us to continue to substitute the other guys.

Indiana Players – Aljami Durham and Rob Phinisee
Q. On having an 18-point game…
DURHAM: It came with my momentum. Everybody knows I have been struggling a little bit from beyond the arc, but it was good to see. My teammates always kept encouraging me. My coaches kept encouraging me and it just finally went down tonight.

Q. On keeping a calm mindset to win their first conference game…
DURHAM: Because you can’t get down because we lost two in a row. We had to get the third one. We have to get the next one. We have a next game mentality. I have to get the next one, We cannot hang our hat on if we lose or win. We have to make sure we are ready for the next game that is coming.

Q. On the game-winning shot…
PHINISEE: Yeah, obviously it was a broken play. I just saw an opening and I feel like I had to make a shot for my team. I just delivered it.

Q. On performing under pressure…
PHINISEE: I mean, I will do whatever it takes. Come off the bench, starting. Really, my teammates really just gave me confidence, and just keep playing aggressive. Just played team ball. So, really I am just going to keep playing aggressive, be accurate in practice and play my role.

Q. On adjusting on defense…
PHINISEE: Yeah, at the end you saw, me and Al were going like offense to defense. So, coaches were just telling me to come in and do my job and to get good stops, and at the end of the game I had a couple of big plays and that is what I did.

Q. On the last play in overtime…
PHINISEE: Really, we just wanted to help each other. I on the back line defense obviously and I think it was a late switch with Trayce and he wedged it and I just had to jump over and I walled up. Missed a shot then they rebounded.

Q. On playing freely in the second half…
PHINISEE: It was huge obviously, playing well. Just hitting that three is really big. I feel like we were on a big run. I think we were up 66-54 on them. So, him hitting that three is really big for us. We just have to lock it up.

Q. On what gets you going quicker, offense or defense…
PHINISEE: I really think defensively. I feel like once I am blocking up, getting steals, getting blocks like I did tonight, it translates. So, defense to offense, that is when we are at our best running transition, getting guys open. So, I feel like once I start blocking up, getting steals, getting blocks, that is when I, that is how I get going.

Q. On aggressive play…
DURHAM: It was more of just making reads. Getting to the basket was one of the ones that was working for us tonight btu we were making the plays to kick off a three or hit it inside t Trace and Race. So, we were just reading off what they were doing defensively and making plays.

PHINISEE: I mean what Al said. We know they like to deny on the wing. So, we knew the lane was going to be a lot more open. So, we just stayed aggressive and got to the paint, and we just did our job.

Penn State Coach Jim Ferry
Opening Statement
FERRY: Really proud of the effort our guys gave tonight. I felt we really scrapped. We played extremely hard especially in that second half to give ourselves an opportunity to win on the road against a very good Indiana team. I felt the defensive effort down the stretch was really, really good, and we trusted each other and made plays. We made though baskets to try to give ourselves a chance to win the basketball game.

Q. On the play at the end of regulation…
FERRY: Listen, you know. We have got great referees. The Big Ten has the best referees in the country. These guys work extremely hard. Every play is such a bang, bang play. I obviously would have liked for it to have been called a foul, and it was two sequences right. It was the last possession down at the other end where I felt like Myles got his hand in and he stole it. They got to the free throw line on that. I thought Sam, I did not think Sam was allowed his space to land, and I am not too sure. I did not look at it close enough. I am not too sure there was not some contact up top. But you know. These guys are really good officials, they work really hard. It is just really disappointing.

Courtesy of IUHoosiers.com