BOZICH | No Anunoby; No Morgan; Plenty of Blackmon in Indiana wi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | No Anunoby; No Morgan; Plenty of Blackmon in Indiana win at Penn State

Posted: Updated:
James Blackmon made this game-winning shot at Penn State Wednesday (Indiana University photo). James Blackmon made this game-winning shot at Penn State Wednesday (Indiana University photo).

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) —  Tom Crean did not say how many games OG Anunoby would miss after injuring his right knee on the final play of the first half against Penn State. 

If you were looking for confirmation that Anunoby was finished for this season, Crean had nothing to offer.

At least not with words.

But Crean’s post-game expression and body language said Indiana will have to keep finding ways to win without Anunoby, the way Indiana won (78-75) without the talented sophomore forward in State College, Pa., Wednesday night.

If this basketball season was a course for the Hoosiers, it would be a 400-level class in grimaces, obstacles and challenges.

Injuries. Upsets. Missed opportunities. Wins over two of the 10 best teams in the nation. The works.

“As the leader of these guys I’m excited about the way they played considering everything we went through in this game,” Crean told Stephen Bardo of the Big Ten Network after the game.

“Because there were a lot of tears in that locker room because nobody knew what was going on with one of their fallen brothers (Anunoby).

“And I had to leave a guy that was crying. And that wasn’t easy. But we found a way to win the game. So I’m proud of them for that.”

Add Anunoby’s injury to the list even as the Hoosiers improved to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the league.

Adversity slapped the Hoosiers when Collin Hartman tore up his knee before the season. Hartman was more than Indiana’s only senior, he was a legitimate glue guy, the guy most likely to do anything Crean needed.

Anunoby missed two games after bending his ankle against North Carolina. Juwan Morgan blew up his ankle in an inadvertent tangle with an official against Rutgers Sunday. He wore a boot at Penn State.

Then there were the moments the Hoosiers kicked themselves, handing over games they could have won against Fort Wayne, Butler and Nebraska. No wonder stories have been percolating about the possibility of the Hoosiers missing the NCAA Tournament.

The drip, drip, drip of adversity continued at Penn State.

First Indiana lost Anunoby to what appeared to be a severe knee injury on the final play of the first half. Rushing toward the rim to chase a rebound, Anunoby collapsed to the court, immediately grasping the area below his right knee.

He stayed on the floor as the Penn State players exited and was eventually helped to the locker room. Anunoby did not return to the bench for the second half.

In his post-game press conference, Crean said he did not have a diagnosis on Anunoby’s injury.

Then Crean’s team gave back every inch of a 13-point lead in the final 5:36. Turnovers. Missed shots. Trouble inbounding the basketball.

Get this: Penn State tied the game at 75 on two free throws by Lamar Stevens with 4.6 seconds to play.

That is freshman Lamar Stevens who picked Penn State over Indiana as a Top 75 recruit a year ago.

But this time Indiana kicked back.

James Blackmon is one of three Indiana players to suffer a serious knee injury in the last 13 months.

Blackmon is healthy now. Ask Penn State.

Taking an inbounds pass from Zach McRoberts, a walk-on who started the second half in place of Anunoby, Blackmon drove past two Penn State defenders along the right sideline.

Just outside the three-point line near the Indiana bench, Blackmon encountered a third Penn State defender — Julian Moore, a 6-foot-10 forward, nearly a half-foot taller than Blackmon.

Blackmon was ready.

He stopped. He soared. He launched. He tumbled backwards toward the Indiana bench.

And then Blackmon ssssshhhed the crowd because his three-point shot at the buzzer lifted the Hoosiers to a 78-75 win, their first Big Ten road win.

Bardo asked Crean for his reaction.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “The last time I felt like this we hit a buzzer-beater against Kentucky in 2011. 

“We almost gave the game away. As a coach, I’m not very happy about that.”

What about the game-winning play?

“It’s a set action,” Crean said. “We had him refuse the screen because we knew they would switch it. He got open easier that I thought he would Thomas (Bryant) set the screen. He did a great job of timing up the time on the shot with the dribbles. He got  the ball out in front of him and did a great job.

“It’s a fitting way to end the night for them. I’m proud of them. But we’ve got to be better closing games no matter who’s out there.” 

Credit Blackmon, Robert Johnson and Thomas Bryant with 17 points each.

Back to the grind Saturday at 4 p.m. when Michigan State visits Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.