Jalen Pickett had 28 points and eight rebounds as Penn State advanced to the Big Ten championship game by holding off 19th-ranked Indiana 77-73 in Chicago on Saturday afternoon.
The 10th-seeded Nittany Lions, who have never won the tournament since its inception in 1998, will face top seed Purdue on Sunday afternoon. Penn State’s only previous appearance in the title game came in 2011, when it lost to Ohio State.
Seth Lundy supplied 16 points for Penn State (22-12), while Andrew Funk contributed nine points. Kebba Njie chipped in six points and nine rebounds.
The Nittany Lions also defeated the Hoosiers during the regular season, 85-66 on Jan. 11.
Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana (22-11), the tournament’s No. 3 seed, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Tamar Bates had 14 points and Jalen Hood-Schifino added 11 for the Hoosiers, who nearly erased a late 15-point deficit.
Pickett had 13 first-half points as Penn State led 34-26 at halftime.
A 7-0 spurt early in the second half, capped by Bates’ 3-pointer, pulled the Hoosiers within three.
A Jackson-Davis dunk with 12:20 remaining cut Penn State’s lead to 44-43, but Lundy answered with a three-point play.
Indiana tied it with four straight points from Jackson-Davis, including a dunk.
Penn State responded with a 7-0 run that included a dunk by Njie.
Following Njie’s offensive rebound, Pickett made a jumper with six minutes to go to extend Penn State’s lead to 58-49.
When Funk knocked down a 3-pointer with four minutes left, the Nittany Lions’ advantage grew to 11, and Pickett’s layup with just under three minutes to play pushed Penn State’s cushion to 15.
Indiana climbed back with 10 straight points, finished off by a Jackson-Davis dunk, to make it 72-67. His putback moments later sliced Penn State’s lead to four.
A Nittany Lions turnover led to an Indiana layup with 33 seconds left, cutting Penn State’s lead to 74-73.
Lundy provided some breathing room with two free throws, and Hood-Schifino then missed a 3-pointer.
Camren Wynter clinched Penn State’s win with a free throw.
–Field Level Media