Hoosiers Go The Distance To Get Road Win

Rod Wilmont's 20 first half points gave Indiana a chance and the Hoosiers capitalized on the opportunity in the second half, emerging with an 84-74 win over Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Indiana had to go to great lengths to secure its first Big Ten road victory.

As in 19 feet, nine inches.

Rod Wilmont knocked down seven of IU's season-high 14 3-pointers and A.J. Ratliff added four more, leading the Hoosiers to an 84-74 win over Penn State at the Bryce-Jordan Center Saturday.

Indiana became just the fourth Big Ten team to win a road game of any kind this season and improved to 12-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. Penn State, meanwhile slipped to 10-6 and 1-2 in league play.

The Hoosiers' 14-of-34 shooting from behind the 3-point arc helped them overcame significant foul trouble for big men Lance Stemler, D.J. White and Xavier Keeling, as well as a less-than-stellar effort defensively. Indiana forced the Nittany Lions into only seven turnovers, and after holding every foe to less than 70 points this season, Penn State scored 74. That included 17 points in the game's first 6 ½ minutes, allowing Penn State to open a 17-5 lead.

It was the first of two 12-point first half leads for the Nittany Lions.

"I thought to start the game, their kids hit us in the chin and pushed us on our heels, and that's not how we play," IU Coach Kelvin Sampson said.

While the defense struggled early, Wilmont single-handedly kept the Hoosiers' heads above water. Wilmont scored 20 of his career-high 25 points in the first half, including six 3-pointers, to keep the Hoosiers within shouting distance. Penn State went into the locker room leading 41-40, but Wilmont's play gave the Hoosiers a chance in the second half.

Wilmont also added a career-high 12 rebounds.

"Part of it is he has no fear," Sampson said. "Rod kept us in the game in the first half."

Indiana seized that opportunity in the game's final 20 minutes. The Hoosiers took their first lead when Ratliff penetrated and found D.J. White for a lay-up at the 10:05 mark, putting IU on top 55-54. Indiana extended that lead to seven, 64-57, thanks to back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers by Armon Bassett and then a pair from Ratliff over the next three minutes.

Penn State would get no closer than five the rest of the way, and Earl Calloway eventually put the game away by converting 6-of-7 free throws in the game's final minute.

"They forced us to take a lot of 3s today," Sampson said. "Our guards stepped up and knocked down enough shots."

Both Ratliff and Bassett scored 11 of their 14 points in the second half, and Calloway finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. D.J. White, meanwhile, battled double teams throughout the afternoon but still managed 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Ratliff also did a solid job on the defensive end containing Penn State guard Danny Morrissey in the second half. Morrissey had knocked down 16-of-20 shots in his last two games while earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors last week, but he didn't score in the game's final 16 minutes and finished with 13.

"In the second half, A.J. and Mike White really helped us, being able to defend," Sampson said. "We had so many in foul trouble… I've been challenging A.J. to be consistent with his attitude and effort, being on the balls of your feet and not on his heels."

Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley led Penn State with 17 points apiece.

While Sampson wasn't overly enamored with his team's defensive effort early on, or the fact Lance Stemler was held scoreless while being saddled with foul trouble, or how his squad forced only seven Penn State turnovers, it was still a much needed road win for an Indiana team that has now won seven out of its last eight.

"I can say a million things about what we didn't do, but we got a road win," Sampson said.

D. White 6-9 2-4 14, Stemler 0-1 0-0 0, Bassett 4-12 4-7 14, Wilmont 9-23 0-0 25, Calloway 2-5 6-7 11, Suhr 0-0 0-0 0, Ratliff 5-8 0-0 14, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, M. White 2-2 0-0 4, Shaw 0-1, 0-0 0, Keeling 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 29-64 12-18 84.

Cornley 7-13 3-7 17, Hassell 5-7 2-4 12, Claxton 6-13 5-9 17, Jackson 1-5 4-4 6, Morrissey 3-9 4-4 13, Luber 3-7 2-2 9, Walker 0-2 0-0 0, Bogetic 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 20-30 74.

3-Pointers: Indiana 14-34 (Wilmont 7-17, Ratliff 4-7, Bassett 2-6, Calloway 1-3), Penn State 4-15 (Morrissey 3-7, Luber 1-3, Claxton 0-2, Bogetic 0-2, Walker 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 42 (Wilmont 12), Penn State 35 (Claxton 8). Assists: Indiana 14 (Calloway 5), Penn State 13 (Hassell 3, Jackson 3). Turnovers: Indiana 10 (Ratliff 2), Penn State 7 (Cornley 2, Jackson 2). Blocks: Indiana 4 (D. White 2, Ratliff 1, M. White 1), Penn State 1 (Claxton). Steals: Indiana 1 (Bassett), Penn State 6 (Claxton 2, Luber 2). Officials: Tom O'Neill, Steve Skiles, Sam Banks. Attendance: 10,159. Halftime Score: Penn State 41, Indiana 40.

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