Penn State Basketball vs. Indiana Preview: Lions Hoping to Avoid Three-game Losing Streak

By Vincent Lungaro on January 26, 2022 at 9:18 am
Jan 2, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward John Harrar (21) holds onto the ball as Indiana Hoosiers forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) defends during the second half at Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State defeated Indiana 61-58. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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Penn State has been competitive and consistent in Micah Shrewsberry's first season. On Wednesday, the Nittany Lions will look to avoid the first three-plus game losing streak of Shrewsberry's opening campaign. 

The Lions (8-8, 3-5 Big Ten) head to Bloomington for this season's second matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers (14-5, 5-4 Big Ten) in search of some regained footing following back-to-back road losses to Ohio State and Iowa. 

Penn State won the first meeting between the two teams back on Jan. 2, 61-58. With a win at Assembly Hall, it would give the Nittany Lions just their second regular-season sweep over the Hoosiers in program history and the first since 2009. 

PROJECTED STARTERS

PENN STATE INDIANA
G Sam Sessoms - 6'0 - Sr. G Xavier Johnson - 6'3 - Sr.
G Jalen Pickett - 6'4 - Sr. G Parker Stewart - 6'5 - Jr.
F Seth Lundy - 6'6 - Jr. F Miller Kopp - 6'7 - Sr.
F Greg Lee - 6'9 - Sr. F Race Thompson - 6'8 - Sr.
F John Harrar - 6'9 - Sr.  F Trayce Jackson-Davis - 6'9 - Jr.

 

LAST TIME OUT

Penn State dropped its weekend matchup at Iowa, 68-51, in what was the team's most non-competitive loss since an early season defeat at UMass. 

Indiana, meanwhile couldn't follow up its thrilling win over in-state rivals Purdue with a victory over Michigan on Sunday. The Hoosiers fell to the Wolverines, 80-62 in what could be described as a let-down game. 

The second-best Trayce (behind Trace McSorley, of course) to ever grace a Big Ten playing surface, Trayce Jackson-Davis remains the focal point for the Hoosiers this season. The junior forward leads Indiana in a multitude of categories, including points, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage and minutes played. 

The highly-skilled big man is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (18.6 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (8.6 rpg). Jackson-Davis uses his strength and athleticism to dominate the paint area and get the better of the opposition's forward line on most occasions. He'll represent another challenge for Penn State's post players in what has seemingly been a theme across conference play all season.

Race Thompson has been a productive 'Robin' to Jackson-Davis' 'Batman' this season, averaging 10.7 points per game at a 55% clip. Former Pitt guard Xavier Johnson is the third Indiana player in double figures for scoring, averaging 10.2 points per game. He's also the team's leading assist man, with 4.2 per game. 

The Hoosiers aren't a great three-point shooting team, but they also don't give up a ton of threes either. Indiana shoots 34% from beyond the arc, while only allowing opponent's to shoot 31%. Indiana has the lowest total made threes in the Big Ten. 

If someone is going to get hot from deep it's either going to be Northwestern transfer Miller Kopp (38%) or another Pitt transfer in Parker Stewart (46%). Stewart has a six-made 3-pointers effort to his name earlier this season against Syracuse. 

Like Shrewsberry and Penn State, Indiana and first-year head coach Mike Woodson have won a lot of games with defense this season. The Hoosiers enter Wednesday's matchup allowing the fewest points per game in the conference at 63.7. The Nittany Lions are third in the conference, allowing just 64.9 points per game. 

keys to the game

  • Make someone other than Trayce Jackson-Davis beat you. John Harrar is probably the most underrated big man in the Big Ten. The caliber of post players he's got to go up against on a nightly basis is pretty remarkable. He's been up for the challenge more times than not, and on Wednesday he's got another one with Jackson-Davis. It's important for Harrar to hold his own defensively in the post and not let the All-American candidate dominate. 
  •  Get the offense on track. This probably applies to both teams since Indiana's offense sputtered badly in this weekend's loss to Michigan. Penn State's offense has been in a pretty rough slump recently. The Nittany Lions haven't topped 70 points since the Jan. 5 win at Northwestern. It's no surprise they've only won one of the five games since then. Saturday's loss to Iowa was probably the ugliest yet, with Penn State scoring just 51 points and shooting 28% from three. Both of these team's win with defense, but its whoever's offense can get going that will determine the outcome of this one. 
  • John Harrar to find his offensive footing. Harrar needs to play well defensively on Trayce Jackson-Davis, and he also needs to rebound from a bad night offensively in the loss the Hawkeyes. The senior forward was scoreless at Iowa on 0-of-4 shooting. The Nittany Lions aren't going to win many games if Harrar is held without a point. 

PREDICTION

Penn State is reeling a bit in the midst of a difficult stretch of road games. The Nittany Lions haven't played at home since Jan. 11. The extended road swing will end next Monday against Iowa. The offense has to be better if the blue and white want to avoid a three-game skid. The first win over Indiana was impressive. Defeating the Hoosiers a second time in their own backyard would be even more impressive. Indiana 75, Penn State 63

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