They didn't make it easy (do they ever?), but the Hoosiers moved to 3-1 in Big Ten play with a 76-73 win over Penn State at Assembly Hall on Tuesday night. Here are five things I'm thinking about after the game.
1. ENERGY SPARKS ANOTHER WIN: For the second straight game, the Hoosiers got energy from unlikely an unlikely source on Tuesday night. Against Ohio State, it was Collin Hartman and Nick Zeisloft. Against Penn State, it was walk-on Ryan Burton.
Burton played only five minutes, but he grabbed three offensive rebounds that led to five points during an important second-half run. When Burton started diving on the floor for loose balls, the crowd got into it and the Hoosiers were able to ride that wave to victory.
I wonder, though, if Indiana will be able to create that same energy when its not at Assembly Hall. At home, you can play poorly for stretches, but then get a little energy and feed off the ensuing crowd noise. On the road, you have to create energy from things other than the crowd, and I wonder if the Hoosiers will be able to do so in games like the last two. They did against Nebraska, not against Michigan State.
Johnson finished with 20 points -- one off a career-high -- on 7-of-11 shooting and 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Johnson also didn't have a single turnover.
It was yet another example how the Hoosiers can beat teams in so many different ways. Even if one or two guys are off, Indiana can still find a way. That's a good sign.
3. WILLIAMS CAN'T BE STOPPED: You got the feeling in the second half against Penn State that Troy Williams could score whenever he wanted to. And he basically did. The sophomore had 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting as he continued to play well.
"He's just a better play," said Penn State coach Patrick Chambers. "He's probably my most-improved right now. I know it's still early, but what he is doing, and how he is finishing, and how he is handling the basketball ... he's playing point forward. I know he's trying to use him a little bit like Victor. He's playing great, playing really good basketball."
4. WINNING CLOSE GAMES: Tuesday night's game is another one that's easy to knit pick. It's just a 3-point win at home over Penn State. But think about it this way: It's a game the Hoosiers lost last year.
Instead of finding ways to lose close games like they did a year ago, the Hoosiers are finding ways to win those games this season. Regardless how pretty, a win is a win in conference play, and the Hoosiers have three of them in four tries.
5. REPLACING HANNER: With Hanner Mosquera-Perea out four weeks with a knee injury, other guys will have to step up. I was eager to see what freshman Emmitt Holt could do with more of an opportunity, but he was a non-factor against Penn State.
Collin Hartman got the start, and played well again. Hartman's two 3-pointers were a big factor in the game. He also had five rebounds. Holt, meanwhile, had 1 point and 0 rebounds in 13 minutes. He's got to be able to be a consistent factor on the boards going forward while Mosquera-Perea is out. Indiana lost the rebounding battle, 37-30, on Tuesday night.