UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Any doubts that IU’s loss to #17 Maryland would linger were reaffirmed on Wednesday night, as the Hoosiers (15-6, 5-5 B1G) fell to Penn State (15-5, 5-4), 64-49. Everyone is granted the occasional “bad day in the office,” and Indiana is coming off a stretch of six straight intense games, but the Hoosiers collapsed after a competitive first half.
In front of a sparse and uninspiring crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center, the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions went to toe-to-toe for the first half. Nine Hoosiers took the floor in the first 10 minutes, with only Jerome Hunter staying on the sideline. Hunter missed the game due to an illness, per an IU spokesperson. Redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson did not suit up for IU, missing his 2nd straight contest.
One of the things all teams try to do on the road is control tempo. In this matchup, which features a significant contrast in styles, it was the Hoosiers who were able to slow things down, benefiting their style of play. The teams had 33 possessions each in the first half; Penn State’s adjusted tempo is 71.6 possessions per game, according to KenPom.
Trayce Jackson-Davis made a major impact down low for Indiana. In the first half alone, he accumulated 10 points, six rebounds, and a steal on a team-high 15 minutes. Only one other player scored more than five points at the break for Indiana: senior De’Ron Davis. After coming in for Joey Brunk who picked up two early fouls, Davis hit a bucket inside, made two free throws, and then knocked down a jumper from the perimeter.
On the Penn State side of things, all-everything forward Lamar Stevens put up numbers, but inefficiently. Stevens missed 11 of his first 14 shots and four of his first six free throws. Stevens ended up with 17 points (7-for-21 FG) and a game-high nine rebounds. He did leap Jon Crispin for 3rd on PSU’s all-time scoring list this evening, finishing the night with 1,994 points. Former Hoosier Curtis Jones made an impact early for the Nittany Lions, leading his team with 10 first-half points on 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Jones finished with 12 on the night.
The start of the second half went horribly for Indiana. Offensively, the Hoosiers began 2-for-14 with eight turnovers, and Jackson-Davis was not as involved as he was in the early stages. Defensively, the IU defense could not control the pace like they did in the first half. After a 2-for-9 performance from 3 in the first half, the Nittany Lions hit two of their first five after the break.
Penn State was able to turn the game more towards the up-and-down style that they enjoy. The Nittany Lions’ defense created their offense multiple times down the stretch. PSU ended up with an eye-popping 15 steals, to Indiana’s three, and 12 fast break points, compared to IU’s seven. Additionally, they were able to spread out Indiana’s defense and find driving lanes to the rim. Those baskets, in turn, fired up those in attendance.
Indiana’s guards struggled all evening to find seams in the PSU defense, make the right pass, and put points on the board. The combination of Armaan Franklin, Devonte Green, Rob Phinisee, and Al Durham shot a combined 3-for-26. Curtis Jones made five field goals on his own for PSU. More concerning for Archie Miller though is that his experienced players like Green and Durham did not elevate their play when the Hoosiers faced adversity or slumped. That will have to change against Ohio State on Saturday.
Number of the Night: 18.2
Once again, Indiana put up a performance from three-point line that had a percentage lower than the temperature in Bloomington (33 degrees). Three-point shooting has been a struggle for IU all year, but the problems get exacerbated on the road. The Hoosiers shoot a dreadful 24.3% from three-point land away from home, mark that was 6th-worst in the country coming into tonight.
Next Up: @ Ohio State
On Saturday, Indiana continues their week-long road trip with a stop in Columbus, Ohio to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are unranked currently, but KenPom rates them #12 in the country, with a 23rd-ranked offense and 17th-ranked defense.
That game is scheduled to tip off 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 1. You can catch that game on ESPN.
The full schedule can be found on the Indiana Basketball schedule page.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ