Pre-Game: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Saturday February 1, 6:30 pm

BTN

Pat Chambers and the 12-10 Nittany Lions come to Bloomington tomorrow evening for the second match-up of the year with the Hoosiers.  The first contest, which was just thirteen days ago, was controlled pretty much the whole time by Indiana, but a late run by Penn State tied the game with 4.6 seconds left.  That was just enough time for James Blackmon Jr. to dribble the distance of the court and hit a game-winning three as time expired.  The win got Indiana back to .500 in league play, and seemed like it could be the turning point for the Hoosiers.  Within these last thirteen days Indiana has knocked off Michigan State by seven, lost at Michigan by thirty, and lost at Northwestern by thirteen.  The last two games have been simply bad basketball.  Indiana has looked lost on defense and there seems to be just a lack of interest.  Indiana is 4-5 in the Big Ten and the team that was once ranked #3 in the country will now struggle to even get a bid for the tournament.

 

Match-Up to Watch

            Freshman, point guard Tony Carr has been a big contributor for coach Pat Chambers this season.  He is third on the team in scoring and first in assists.  He was a huge piece in his team’s comeback against Indiana in the first game, as he caused a couple turnovers and hit big shots down the stretch.  He does struggle to shoot the ball with a low average of 36%, but is a great free-throw shooter at just under 80%.  He had a game-high 24 points in the first match-up with Indiana and will look to do the same tomorrow evening.  On the other side of ball will be Robert Johnson.  With JBJ being out indefinitely with a lower leg injury Rob is the go to guard for Indiana.  Rob continues to improve on his shooting and is currently at just under 50% on 2s and 43% from distance.  He is the most experienced guy on the young Indiana squad, and should look to take it to the freshman at home tomorrow.

 

X-Factor for the Hoosiers

            Indiana’s season is on the edge of a cliff at this point.  Current NCAA tournament predictions have the Hoosiers anywhere from a 9 seed to not even making the field.  After Wednesday’s game the Hoosiers have eight remaining games with five of those being away from home.  That makes the remaining home games, including tomorrow, absolute must win ball games.  With three of Indiana’s best players sidelined the Hoosiers are struggling to find consistent offense.  Freshman, Curtis Jones, De’ron Davis, and Devonte Green have been forced to step into much larger roles than they were expected to fill at the beginning of the season.  Other guys like Freddie McSwain and Zach McRobberts have had to do the same.  If Indiana wants to come out tomorrow with a win and stay competitive the rest of the season they have to have balanced scoring.  All guys are going to have to contribute.

 

X-Factor for the Nittany Lions

             Indiana is currently last in the Big Ten giving up 1.14 points per possession.  To simplify that statistic: Indiana’s defense is really bad.  Penn State needs to be aggressive on offense, which they struggle to do at times.  I would definitely look for the Nittany Lions to attack the rim as much as possible, especially with Indiana’s short-handed front court.  Penn State shoots an impressive 75% as a team at the free throw line.  If they can get Thomas Bryant and De’ron Davis in foul trouble Penn State will hold the advantage.

 

Prediction

            Indiana fans are not totally sure what to think at this point.  The team that was once a national title contender is now below .500 in the Big Ten and going to have to put some wins together without their stars James Blackmon and OG Anunoby to even make it to the tournament.  A home game against Penn State in these circumstances is nothing less than a must win game for Indiana.  The Hoosiers are currently favored by 6.5, but I see tomorrow being a closer competition.  Indiana: 75 – Penn State: 71.

 

Jonny Gee

Indiana University | 2020

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