Preview: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Indiana Hoosiers (12-6) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (11-7)
January 18, 2017 @ 7 PM
Big Ten Network
Preview
Indiana is still trying to brush off their rusty start in Big Ten play. This game will be an interesting game as Penn State sits ahead of Indiana in the Big Ten and also have some confidence building wins under their belt. The last time the Hoosiers visited the Nittany Lions they were handed a 5 point loss. Surprisingly, Indiana has only had two true road games this season both of which they have lost.
Match-Up to Watch
The Nittany Lions have two prominent scorers in junior guard Shep Garner and freshman forward Lamar Stevens, who average 12.4 and 12.2 points per game respectively. The Hoosiers top defender Robert Johnson will presumably go head to head with Garner. Juwan Morgan will matchup with Stevens. These matchups look to be in favor of the Hoosiers because these have been the two most consistent players on both ends of the floor this year. Juwan (18 blocks) can contest shots and Robert (16 steals) is always looking to start the fast breaks, and a defensive presence is what will be key in getting the Hoosiers off to a fast start.
X-Factor for Indiana
The Achilles heel for the Hoosiers through Big Ten play is how slow they have been with starting their games. There is no doubt they can score, yet they seem to struggle getting into a rhythm in the first 10+ minutes of the game. They speed up their tempo to where they are uncomfortable and forcing shots or passes. The second biggest thing hindering Indiana is their three-point shooting. In 3 of their 5 conference games they have shot below their season average (38%).
X-Factor for Penn State
The Nittany Lions force almost 16 turnovers per game, and that has been a huge problem for Indiana all year. If Indiana has a slow start due to turnovers and lack of effort, Penn State will feed off of that and not look back. Penn State also pulls down around 11 offensive rebounds every contest, something that is huge in conference play for potential momentum swings with second chance points.
Key Stat
Penn State has more losses at home this year than on the road but Indiana is 0-2 in true road games thus far. One of those games was at Maryland last week and Indiana got off to yet another slow start. If Penn State can get momentum in their favor the IU will have its hands full again. Coach Crean made a statement this week regarding whether 6’10” freshman De’Ron Davis and 6’10” sophomore Thomas Bryant could potentially play more minutes together in the rotation. Indiana does tend to play really well with this bigger lineup, watch for these two in the game together as Indiana could try to go with a bigger lineup tomorrow night.
Prediction
This Indiana team still has many things to prove this year, and one of them is that they can and will win on the road in conference play. This is a crucial point in the season for both teams nonetheless trying to battle for position in the conference and respect nationally. Indiana has been shaky all year, could a two game win streak in conference play mean that Indiana is figuring things out? Or can Penn State take down the Hoosiers two years in a row in University Park.
Indiana 90 | Penn State 72

Jacob Lautenschlager
Indiana University | 2020

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