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February 12, 2014

A brutal final stretch

The final three and a half minutes were bad for Indiana.

The final 2:06 was a complete mess.

The Hoosiers committed four turnovers, three coming on inbound situations, and didn't score a single point over the final 2:06 as a nine-point lead melted into a 66-65 loss to Penn State at Assembly Hall Wednesday night.

Indiana tried three different players to inbound the ball over the final 2:06 - Will Sheehey, Jeremy Hollowell and Noah Vonleh - but all three of those situations ended in turnovers.

Three of those turnovers came in the final 33 seconds.

The Hoosiers had six possessions in the final 2:06. The result - four turnovers and two missed shots, a 3-pointer by Evan Gordon and a rushed jumper by Yogi Ferrell at the buzzer.

"We panicked," Sheehey said. "We didn't stay true to our scouting report."

It was probably Indiana's biggest collapse at home since Bob Knight's 1996-97 squad blew a seven-point lead in the final 58 seconds and lost 96-91 in overtime to Minnesota.

Indiana led by 12 with 3:34 to play on Wednesday in a game it needed to win to stay within reaching distance of the NCAA Tournament bubble. After Evan Gordon hit one of two free throws to put the Hoosiers up 65-65 with 2:09 to play, the wheels fell off for IU.

Penn State's Tim Frazier drove right into the lane and was fouled. He hit two free throws. Indiana 65, Penn State 58, 2:06 to play

Hollowell couldn't inbound and was called for a five-second violation. Brandon Taylor hit a 3. Indiana 65, Penn State 61, 1:59 to play.

Gordon missed a 3-pointer late in the shot clock. Taylor hit a runner. Indiana 65, Penn State 63, 1:07 to play.

The Nittany Lions elected to allow IU to run clock. IU coach Tom Crean called timeout with 38.1 to play and seven seconds on the shot clock. Sheehey got the ball to Austin Etherington, who passed it to Gordon, who was called for a travel.

Etherington seemed to give IU a reprieve on Penn State's ensuing possession, drawing a charge on John Johnson.

IU again couldn't inbound cleanly. Sheehey tried to get the ball to Ferrell, but Penn State's Tim Frazier knocked it away and flipped it to Travis. Sheehey fouled Travis. Travis hit one of two free throws. Indiana 65, Penn State 64, 14 seconds to play.

Vonleh took the ball out this time. He couldn't find anyone open and threw long toward halfcourt. D.J Newbill got this one, and Penn State called timeout with 12.3 left.

The Nittany Lions put the ball in Frazier's hands, and the senior guard drove for a layup with 6.1 to play.

On the final play, Stan Robinson inbounded to Ferrell, who raced down the court and managed to get up a jumper at the buzzer that hit the backboard and rim and bounced off.

Penn State's only lead of the game came on Frazier's layup with 6.1 seconds left.

"It's not very fun to lose a game like that," Ferrell said. "It all comes down to execution at the end of the game. It just has to get a lot better. We just can't panic on the court. We've just got to stay true to ourselves and execute."

Penn State (13-12, 4-8 Big Ten) has won at Ohio State and at Indiana. The Hoosiers (14-10, 4-7) play at Purdue Saturday, one of seven remaining regular-season games.

The most egregious of the turnovers on the inbound situations in the final 2:06 was Hollowell's five-second call when Indiana had timeouts remaining.

"That's lack of awareness. You have to call a timeout when you take the ball out there," Crean said. "I would say panic. I would say guys not rolling back. You're going to be held. There's no question about that, a couple of them were called, a coupe weren't. You have to play through it.

"The bottom line is, you've just got to make a basketball play. You've got to make a play. The press offense, you just roll back and screen and roll back. Use the baseline. Pass fake. Have the awareness when you can't get it in, call the timeout."

Indiana, which won 79-76 at Penn State earlier this season, has lost three Big Ten games this year when it had a double-figure lead.

IU led by 13 Wednesday against Penn State, by 16 at Nebraska and lost 60-55 and by 13 at Minnesota and lost 66-60.

"We just didn't execute," Sheehey said. "You have to play each possession like it's the last possession."

The four turnovers in the final 2:06 were among Indiana's 20 for the game, the fourth game the Hoosiers have had 20 or more turnovers. IU entered the game with one of the worst turnover percentages in the nation, with 22 percent of its possessions ending in a turnover, worst of any BCS-conference team.

"We've just got to get more intelligent on our team," Ferrell said. "It starts of course with me and Will, always does. We're the frontrunners for that. We've just got to be more intelligent with the ball and how we play the game."

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