Indiana's season officially hit rock bottom Wednesday, and it appears it will soon be headed in a new direction.
With rumors about an impending resignation from IU Coach Mike Davis swirling, Indiana dropped its sixth game in seven tries, falling to Penn State 71-68 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Penn.
Indiana slipped to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten, while Penn State improved to 12-11 overall and 4-8 in the Big Ten.
While the loss dealt a potentially crippling blow to IU's chances of earning an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, the game's outcome paled in comparison to an SI.com report that Davis has officially resigned as Indiana's head coach, effective at the end of the season. The SI.com story said Davis informed the administration of his decision late last week, and that Indiana University will hold a press conference as early as Thursday to officially announce that Davis will be stepping down with two years remaining on his contract.
Davis refused to answer questions about the SI.com report during both his postgame radio interview with Don Fischer and also during his postgame press conference at Penn State.
After Wednesday night's 71-68 loss at Penn State, the sixth-year Hoosier coach is 109-76 during his stay in Bloomington. He guided Indiana to the NCAA Championship game in his second season and to NCAA tourney berths in his first three seasons, but his teams have struggled in each of the past three seasons. Indiana went 14-15 in 2004 and 15-14 in 2005, missing the NCAA tourney both seasons. After a 12-3 start this season, Indiana has lost six of its last seven to slip to 13-9 and is in jeopardy of making it three straight seasons without an NCAA tourney invitation.
Davis stopped just short of saying he wouldn't be back on the IU sidelines on several occasions this week. On Monday's Big Ten Teleconference, Davis said that the IU program needed "one of their own" to guide the team and he laughed off a question about the location of next year's Big Ten Tournament, saying "it doesn't really matter to me." Earlier today on the Dan Patrick Show, Davis said he was focused on leading the team this year, but steered clear of addressing his status for the 2006-07 campaign.
Davis sounded optimistic about his team's outlook for the remainder of the season during his Wedensday afternoon radio appearance, but his team's play didn't mirror his words against the Nittany Lions.
Indiana jumped out to an early eight-point lead and had a four-point halftime edge, but Penn State quickly climbed back in the second half behind the play of Travis Parker and Geary Claxton. Parker finished with 21 points and Claxton with 20, helped Penn State to just its third win in 26 tries against Indiana.
Indiana's defense proved to be its biggest problem. Penn State shot 56.5 percent during the second half and 51.1 percent from the floor for the game, helping the Nittany Lions hand IU its fifth straight Big Ten road loss. In those five games, Indiana has allowed its foe to shoot 50 percent or better four times.
"There's no concentration (defensively)," said Davis. "We wanted to play Claxton a certain way…and we let him do what he wanted to do. He made a couple of big time 3-point shots on us. You can't let teams make basket after basket."
Robert Vaden was one of three Hoosiers in double figures, finishing with 17 points 6-of-12 shooting. Marco Killingsworth added 10 points, but was bottled up by a Penn State defense that often doubled and occasionally tripled the Hoosier center.
"Marco had opportunities," said Davis. "They were there. He was point blank on a couple of opportunies."
Marshall Strickland added 11 and six assists, but had his potential game-tying 3-point attempt with nine seconds left missed long. Parker connected on one of two free throws to extend the lead to 71-67 at the other end, and Indiana never had another shot to tie the game.
Hoosiers Lose, Davis Done?
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