8:00 PM ET, January 8, 2003
Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Mike Davis wanted to see a little more intensity from his Indiana Hoosiers on Wednesday night. He got it -- in the second half.Jeff Newton and Bracey Wright each scored 17 points, and Tom Coverdale added 14 as No. 15 Indiana pulled away from Penn State in the second half for a 78-65 victory in the Big Ten opener for both teams."In the second half, our intensity was really good,'' Davis said. "We came out and played extremely hard.''For Indiana, it was not the easiest chapter in a series it has dominated.The Hoosiers (11-2) won their third straight game, beat Penn State for the 12th straight time, and improved to 20-1 in the series. The Nittany Lions' only win came Jan. 27, 1996, and they are now 0-11 at Assembly Hall.Davis, however, wasn't concerned about numbers or streaks; he just wanted the Hoosiers to start playing like they did before a two-game losing streak knocked them out of the Top 10.During the first 20 minutes, the Hoosiers struggled with defensive breakdowns. In the second half, they played almost flawlessly and Davis was hopeful the game taught his players a lesson about what to expect the rest of the conference season -- no matter the opponent."I think they'll see the level of play, and that our level of play has to really step up,'' Davis said.The Hoosiers got production in some strange ways, too.Newton scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half, while Wright had only six in the first half. Newton also grabbed 12 rebounds.George Leach, Indiana's other big inside contributor, was shut out in the first 20 minutes. But Leach got on track in the second half, scoring all eight of his points in the after halftime. He also finished with seven rebounds and four blocks.To Penn State coach Jerry Dunn, it was another nightmare."I felt the difference was their inside play,'' Dunn said. "Leach and Newton did a good job for them, picking up some fouls on our guys, you're usually productive when that happens.''But the Nittany Lions (5-7, 0-1) played well enough to have hope.With Brandon Watkins able to go past Coverdale or spot up and Penn State shooting better than 60 percent in the game's first 10 minutes, the Nittany Lions appeared to have a chance to win their sixth in a row.Then everything changed.The Hoosiers intensity picked up, their defense was solid and the holes that Penn State was exploiting vanished.Watkins finished with 21 points, three fewer than his career-high. The Nittany Lions' leading scorer Sharif Chambliss managed only 12 points -- four of those from the free-throw line -- and Penn State lost for the 16th consecutive time on the road."Sometimes he likes to gamble,'' Watkins said of Coverdale. "I used that to my advantage sometimes.''The Hoosiers finally got a handle on Watkins and his teammates in the second half.Indiana closed the first half on a 6-2 burst to take a 35-32 lead, then looked to Leach for help early in the second half.His presence helped Indiana go on a 10-2 run early, and when the spurt ended with 11:34 to play, Indiana led 57-45."The key to my play is to stay intense the whole time,'' Leach said.Chambliss answered with one of his two 3-pointers, but Indiana followed that with a 14-4 spurt to put the game away -- and let Davis walk away with a smile."We have to be prepared for that. What we did last year really set us up for these kinds of games,'' Davis said. "I think we'll learn that.''
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