Despite falling behind by double figures multiple times in the second half and despite losing star guard Tim Frazier to the foul limit with 1:34 remaining, the Nittany Lions clawed to within two points on three different occasions in the final 35 seconds before No. 12 Indiana finally sealed the deal by making 10 straight free throws.
For us to still have a chance at the end and not get our heads down and (not) sulk and compete we're heading in the right direction, Chambers said.
But he was much less flattering of what he saw from his team after the defeat, which dropped PSU's record to 9-8 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten. He didn't think some of his players took the loss nearly as hard as they should have.
We have to continue to change the mentality, Chambers said. Losing is not acceptable, and it will never be acceptable. There are no moral victories. I know it's cliché, but it gets contagious. 'Oh, we lost, but you played hard.' That's got to end. You play hard, you win.
In the postgame press conference, Frazier, who scored a game-high 21 points for the Lions, was clearly angry. So was Jermaine Marshall, who added 20.
We're not satisfied, Frazier said. The bottom line is we lost.
During a rebuilding year, Chambers wants to see the same sort of thing from the rest of the squad following a loss.
We're not all in yet, he said. There were some guys who were obviously very upset. We need 15 guys to be furious, to be mad, because they know how hard we worked in practice the last two days.
Penn State was fresh off a 20-point drubbing of Purdue at the BJC Thursday night. But Indiana is a much more powerful bunch this year. The Hoosiers started the season at 12-0, including a win over a Kentucky team that beat PSU by 38 points, and after Sunday's victory stand at 15-1 and 3-1.
Tom Crean's club has an outstanding mix of size (freshman post Cody Zeller), athleticism (junior forward Christian Watford and guard Victor Olapido) and deadeye shooters (veterans Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth).
On this day, the perimeter game carried Indiana, as Hulls buried 7 of 11 triples and Roth was good on 5 of 6. As a team, the Hoosiers were an amazing 16 of 24 from the arc, coming up one 3-pointer shy of tying their school record.
Yet every time it looked like one of the little guards had thrown the knockout punch, Penn State came right back. Though IU enjoyed a decided height advantage, the Lions held a commanding 36-10 edge when it came to points in the paint.
(Penn State) is a very physical, strong and tough team, Crean said. This isn't a team that's just flying around out there. They have some strength.
Down 80-73 with 1:13 left, guard Cammeron Woodyard snared an offensive rebound for the Lions and was fouled. He made both to cut it to 80-75. Then walk-on guard Nick Colella came up with a steal, which led to a Marshall dunk at the :38 mark.
Following a timeout, the inbound pass bounced off Hulls and out of bounds for a turnover. Marshall scored again and it was 80-78 with 35 seconds left.
Alas, for Penn State, the drama was really over. The Hoosiers wisely kept getting the ball to Hulls and Roth, and they combined to make eight free throws on eight attempts and that was that.
Chambers had his typical sense of humor in the postgame press conference, saying he was tempted to just tell Indiana to take the points when Hulls and Roth went to the line rather than wasting everyone's time by making them shoot.
Don't shoot them, just head back, they're good, he said.
He also marveled at how pure IU's 3-point shots were.
I don't think any of their shots hit the rim, Chambers said.
But his tone became much more serious when talking about the demeanor of his team after the loss. There was no smile on his face when he said he expected everybody to be angry in the locker room.
Even the guys who didn't play, I want them mad, he said.
• Freshman forward Ross Travis had eight points, six rebounds and a monster dunk for the Lions.
Colella once again got all of the minutes rookie guard Trey Lewis usually gets. It is clear Chambers is sending a message to Lewis about a lack of effort in practice. Trey's got to earn it. He's got to earn it back. And he will. He's got to come compete every day.
IU held the suddenly sizzling Billy Oliver to one shot (a miss) in the first half. Oliver shook loose to hit 3 of 4 3-pointers in the second half. (Chambers) has Billy Oliver thinking he's Dirk Nowitzki or Tom Gugliotta, Crean cracked.
Hulls finished with 28 points while Roth had 22.