INDIANAPOLIS -- Penn State kept its outside hopes of an NCAA tournament berth alive with a must-win game against reeling Indiana. The Nittany Lions got balanced scoring instead of relying on star guard Talor Battle, played solid defense and avoided foul trouble in the 61-55 win, sending the Hoosiers into the offseason with their ninth straight defeat.
Turning point: In a consistently close game with few prolonged runs, Penn State pieced together a 17-8 push that started late in the first half and extended 5 1/2 minutes into the second half for a seven-point lead. From that point on the Nittany Lions led by at least three points the rest of the way.
Key player: With star guard Battle largely kept under wraps by Indiana defensive ace Jeremiah Rivers, senior forward Jeff Brooks stepped forward with 15 points and seven rebounds for Penn State. Brooks had a pair of difficult bank shots in the latter stages of the second half to help hold off the Hoosiers.
Key stat: Penn State was not whistled for a single foul in the second half until 2:36 remained, which might be the longest I've ever seen a team go without a foul. When the Nittanies finally did get called for one, the response was a half-sarcastic, half-outraged standing ovation from the IU fans.
Miscellaneous: Penn State basketball is the neglected stepchild of Penn State football, and it showed in the Conseco Fieldhouse stands. In the upper deck end zone, a hardy band of roughly 20 Nittany Lions fans stood the whole game and did their limited version of a white-out -- they whited out a couple of rows. They also had cards that spelled out "B-E-L-I-E-V-E." They'll be back to believe again Friday.
What’s next: The Nittany Lions get a rubber game with Wisconsin, a team it split with during the regular season. Indiana's season is over.