No. 9 Penn State at Indiana Preview: Lions Look for Continued Road Dominance

By Craig Fritz on February 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Indiana Basketball
© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
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Indiana Hoosiers
17-9 (7-8 Big Ten)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
Noon EST – Sunday, Feb. 23
Assembly Hall
Bloomington, IN
Watch Info: FS1| GAMETRACKER
KenPom Rank: 40
Read: Penn State Still in Prime Position

Penn State (20-6, 10-5) heads to Assembly Hall to face Indiana (17-9, 7-8) fresh off a busted eight-game win streak following a humbling at home to Illinois. The Nittany Lions, and Lamar Stevens in particular, just couldn't get the offense going against the Illini. It was a game where the continued absence of Myreon Jones was exceptionally noticeable. 

Without Jones and his 14 points/game and 41% shooting from deep, Penn State made a season-low four three-pointers and shot just 36% for the game. Whether or not Jones can go against the Hoosiers, Pat Chambers will need a better shooting performance from his team if he wants to extended its road winning streak to five games.

Projected Starters
Penn State   indiana
Jamari Wheeler - 6'1" - Jr. 1 Rob Phinisee - 6'1" - So.
Myles Dread - 6'2" - So. 2 Aljami Durham - 6'4" - Jr.
Seth Lundy - 6'6" - Fr. 3 Justin Smith - 6'7" - Jr.
Lamar Stevens - 6'8" - Sr. 4 Trayce Jackson-Davis - 6'9" - Fr.
John Harrar - 6'9" - Jr. 5 Joey Brunk - 6'11" - Jr.

scouting report

It's been a weird stretch for Indiana. In the last four games, the Hoosiers have played two of their best and two of their worst Big Ten contests. And even more strangely, the uneven play isn't a home/road split. Indiana was pummeled by Purdue at home and Michigan on the road, while torching Iowa in Assembly Hall and beating Minnesota in The Barn. 

Freshman big man Trayce Jackon-Davis had his best game of the season against Daniel Oturu and the Gophers on Wednesday, a 68-56 victory for the Hoosiers. Jackson-Davis poured in a career-high 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting. Consistency from the freshman phenom would go a long way to giving Indiana an edge on Sunday. Just like the rest of his team, Jackson-Davis hasn't been able to string quality performances together much during conference play.

keys to the game

  • Make shots. This seems obvious, but the Nittany Lions have this road winning streak because they've been so efficient in visiting venues. If they want to notch another huge conference road victory, they're going to have to see the ball go in early and often.
  • Play with patience. Penn State beat the brakes off Indiana with a methodical offense and stifling defense when the teams met in University Park. Playing too fast with defensive lapses could lead to an Illinois-like outcome.
  • Lean on the seniors. Lamar Stevens was just 3 of 11 from the floor against Illinois, and Mike Watkins had just 8 points and 5 rebounds in only 18 minutes. Penn State needs a forceful performance from both guys if they want to be victorious in Bloomington.

prediction

The last time Penn State had such shooting woes, it lost to Wisconsin and was in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Since that game, the Lions are 8-2 and are now in the midst of a Big Ten Championship race. This team is too good and too deep to let the woes linger. While Indiana in Assembly Hall is a huge challenge, Penn State has thrived in the most difficult league venues for the last six weeks. I expect a rebound performance across the board following a tough loss and a couple extra days of rest. My only hesitation with predicting a W is Jones' status, but I think the Lions get it done regardless. Penn State 72 - Indiana 68.

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