The Nittany Lions (11-18, 2-14) closed the regular season with their most lopsided defeat yet, a 94-63 debacle that clinched 11th place in the Big Ten. As such, they will face No. 6 seed Illinois in the first round of the conference tournament in Chicago Thursday.
The Illini, who essentially will be playing a home game Thursday, clocked Penn State 68-50 at the Jordan Center Feb. 24.
Indiana also beat the Lions at the BJC earlier this season, using hot shooting from the arc to secure an 84-74 victory. And the Hoosiers, the Big Ten leaders in 3-point accuracy, were at it again at Assembly Hall Saturday, going 9 of 16 from distance in the first half to seize control.
Penn State is the conference's worst team at defending the 3-point shot, primarily because it relies heavily on a zone defense to mask its lack of athleticism. Against great shooting clubs that are on, the Lions are all but helpless.
The Lions cut the lead to 49-41 on Claxton's conventional 3-point play four minutes into the second half. But the Hoosiers used a 14-2 run to end the game for all intents and purposes.
Ratliff finished 6 of 7 from the arc for 18 points as Indiana (20-9, 10-6) locked down the No. 3 seed at Big Tens. As a team, the Hoosiers went 17 of 32 from 3-point range. PSU was 5 of 13, meaning it was outscored 51-15 from distance.
Claxton finished with 25 to lead Penn State and sophomore forward Jamelle Cornley added 13.
If there is a silver lining to Saturday's loss, it is that it will prevent the Lions from a rematch with the conference's second-best 3-point shooting team. Had Penn State beaten IU and finished 10th in the Big Ten, it would have faced No. 7 seed Michigan State Thursday, the same Spartan outfit that handed PSU its second-worst loss of the season — 91-64 at the BJC Jan. 20.
The Penn State-Illinois game is scheduled to tip at 5:05 p.m. Thursday and will be carried live by ESPN2. Start time could be delayed if one (or both) of the day's two previous matchups goes long.
The Illini as 21-10 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten.
Roderick Wilmont had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Hoosiers, but did most of his damage during garbage time.