Lions Save Their Worst For Last

Penn State is crushed at Indiana in the final game of the regular season, locking down 11th in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will face sixth-seeded Illinois in the first round of the conference tournament in Chicago Thursday.

Penn State saved its worst for last at Indiana Saturday night.

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.

This game was another example of that. Despite 17 points by PSU junior forward Geary Claxton, IU took a 43-31 lead into the break thanks in part to A.J. Ratliff's 4-of-4 showing on 3-pointers.

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.

GAME NOTES

• Penn State had a season-low four assists Saturday. The previous lows was 10, in losses to Wisconsin and Seton Hall.

Roderick Wilmont had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Hoosiers, but did most of his damage during garbage time.

• Three players — Claxton, Cornley and guard Danny Morrissey (10 points) — combined for 48 of PSU's 63 points. Starting guards Mike Walker and David Jackson went a combined 2 of 10 from the field.

See Penn State's Season Box Scores Here.

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