Penn St. Nittany Lions vs. Indiana Hoosiers Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

First-year Penn State coach Mike Rhoades got the type of program-building win Wednesday night that can sustain a program throughout the long offseason.

Down 10 with 2 1/2 minutes left against No. 12 Illinois, the Nittany Lions stormed back and used a spate of turnovers to score a stunning 90-89 win at their old home gym, Rec Hall.

Penn State (13-14, 7-9) will try to build on that result and get back to the .500 mark Saturday when it hosts Indiana in another Big Ten Conference game in University Park, Pa.

“We played through adversity today and I’m just so proud of it,” Rhoades said. “Nobody got in each other’s way. Great teammates today, great teammates. That was fun. That was a lot of fun.”

Making the outcome sweeter was that it happened two days after Rhoades tossed leading scorer Kanye Clary, who was averaging 16.7 points per game, out of the program without making his reason public. Not that Rhoades was looking for validation from that decision, but Nick Kern Jr. took up slack against Illinois with 18 of his 22 points in the second half.

Ace Baldwin Jr. is the top scorer on the roster these days at 13.9 ppg to go along with 5.6 assists per game.

Meanwhile, Indiana (14-12, 6-9) took another step towards having to play on the opening day of the conference tournament with an 85-70 home loss to Nebraska Wednesday night. It was the Hoosiers’ third straight loss and their fourth in five games.

Indiana trailed 51-31 at halftime, unable to stop 3-pointers or make foul shots. It allowed 14-of-33 shooting from the arc on the night and converted only 14 of 24 free throws, dropping it to 65.7 percent for the season, 340th in Division I.

“When they give you an opportunity to go score a free bucket or a point, two points, you got to take advantage of it,” Hoosiers coach Mike Woodson said.

Mackenzie Mgbako led Indiana that night with 22 points. Malik Reneau paces the team with 15.7 ppg.

The Nittany Lions are shooting for a season sweep after dumping Indiana 85-71 on Feb. 3 in Bloomington behind Baldwin’s 22 points and eight assists.

–Field Level Media

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