As it turned out, there were no moral victories to be accepted.
Overmatched by a big, athletic frontcourt and a much quicker backcourt, the Nittany Lions were hammered, 74-51, to fall to 8-6 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers, looking every bit the national title contender they were projected to be when they began the season No. 1 in both major polls, improved to 14-1 and 2-0.
“It's almost like they have two teams coming at you,” said PSU guard Jermaine Marshall, who posted 11 points and seven rebounds. “They're a great team.”
This was a mismatch from the start. In the first five minutes, Penn State made one of five shots to go along with three turnovers and a pair of offensive fouls. It translated into a 15-3 deficit.
Things got really ugly a few minutes later, when Chambers attempted to sneak a bit of rest for do-it-all guard D.J. Newbill at 12:44 of the first half -- shortly before the second scheduled media timeout.
Leading 17-6 and with State's best ball-handler on the bench, IU hit the Lions with a full-court press. It translated into a 8-2 run -- thanks in part to two turnovers by PSU guard Nick Colella.
The Lions were down 25-8 by the time Newbill returned to the floor with 11:14 left in the half. They would not get closer than a dozen points the rest of the way, and finished the game with 19 turnovers.
Indiana's length and speed -- 7-foot All-American Cody Zeller finished with four steals in the game -- was simply too much for PSU. So was its depth.
“It's not one guy; it's eight guys or nine guys,” Chambers said. “That's a deep team, a very good team. There's a reason why they're top five in the country.”
If there was something resembling a positive for the Lions in the blowout loss -- remember, no moral victories allowed -- it was that they continued to play hard long after it was clear they would lose.
State had nine offensive rebounds in the first half alone and finished with 17 in the game. It forced 17 Indiana turnovers, too. But it was not nearly enough to offset the Lions' horrid shooting (31.7 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from the arc).
“Look, our guys played hard,” Chambers said. “They tried. They competed. … It was one of those nights a lid was on the hoop.”
It was also one of those nights where the Hoosiers knew they had the win sealed up by the half (leading 44-27) and threw it into cruise control in the second period. In the game, no IU player took more than eight shots. And yet six of them took five or more shots.
Zeller was 5 of 7 from the floor and could have scored on nearly every possession had Indiana coach Tom Crean wanted that to happen. Frontcourt mate Christian Watford had 11 points in the game's first 11 minutes, but took only two shots in the second half.
IU also had 12 second-half turnovers. Penn State turned them into only four points.
“When you play a team like Indiana and you get turnovers, you have to produce points,” Chambers said. “If you don't produce points, it's gonna be a long night.”
For the team, at least. For the fans, it was a short night.
Many in the announced crowd of 9,386 began filing out with 12:47 left in the second half and PSU down 50-31, no doubt wanting to get home in time to watch most of the BCS national championship game.
If it was of any solace to them, there didn't seem to be any moral victories for the loser of that game, either.
• Sophomore forward Ross Travis had 14 to lead the Lions but it took him a career-high 17 shots to get there.
• Newbill was frustrated by IU's pressure defense, hitting only 3 of 15 shots for eight points to go along with five turnovers. Indiana freshman guard Yogi Ferrell, who struggled offensively, did a nice job hounding Newbill all over the place.
• Watford and Zeller paced the Hoosiers with 16 and 15, respectively. They combined to make 10 of 15 field goals.
• With the game out of reach in the second half, Chambers gave young big men Donovan Jack and Pat Ackerman a look. Jack had five points (including a 3-pointer) and two rebounds in eight minutes. Ackerman had two points, one rebound and one steal in six minutes.
• NBA scouts from the Clippers, Rockets, Thunder and Wizards were on hand for the game.
• Though the BCS title game between longtime Penn State football rivals Alabama and Notre Dame kicked off midway through the second half of the basketball game, PSU did not give score updates over the PA in the BJC.
• The attendance number seemed legit. It was State's largest home crowd of the season.
• Next up for the Lions is a home game with Northwestern Thursday. It tips at 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU. Both teams are 0-2 in the Big Ten.