IU take-aways: Penn State 64, Indiana 49

The wheels fell off.

It’s just one game, and it should be viewed as that.

Especially since Indiana has had horrific outings before, only to respond with a return to a more watchable form.

But the Hoosier team that battled ranked foes tooth and nail in two straight home games was nowhere to be found on the road Wednesday, and the difference between the team that battles and the team that doesn’t has become quite clear.

If the backcourt isn’t hitting shots and isn’t taking care of the ball, the results are ugly.

IU’s four guard were a combined 3-of-26 from the field versus Penn State, which kept the wheels spinning in a first half tied at 28-all. Thanks to 18 IU turnovers, including 12 in the second half, the Nittany Lions produced a 21-6 advantage in points off of turnovers.

And that’s how the wheels fell off.

Those kinds of statistical disadvantages aren’t easily overcome, whether the frontcourt plays well or not. A lack of offensive rhythm snowballs into carelessness for IU’s guards, and then everything swings against the Hoosiers.

Not only were the Hoosiers unable to hit shots in the halfcourt, they couldn’t get much going in transition, because they had just three steals to Penn State’s 15. They couldn’t get to the free throw line, either (9-of-10).

In totality, it was just a stark contrast from the previous week at Assembly Hall, where the Hoosiers took care of the ball to the tune of eight- and six-turnover games.

“It wasn’t one guy, we just couldn’t get anything going,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “In the second half, the turnovers just mounted, and we could never just get a grip.”

The inside-out game wasn’t there.Penn State isn’t a team with imposing size, but they were just more physical inside, it seemed.

Aside from freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was able to roll to the rim for a couple of two-handed flushes, the Hoosiers weren’t able to establish much in the paint.

IU was outscored 36-28 in the paint. Along with 14 points from Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk and Justin Smith added another 19, but eight of those came after the Hoosiers were trailing by 20 late in the second half.

“The ball didn’t move tonight. They made it difficult for us to move it,” Miller said. “We didn’t get many good post catches, and when we did, we had to score it.

“We missed way too many easy ones around the basket.”

Everything was difficult. After a 22-assist outing in a one-point loss to Maryland, the Hoosiers managed just nine helpers in a stagnant offensive performance at the Bryce Jordan Center. And it’s no surprise it happened on the road.

IU has fallen below 10 assists only twice this season: at Maryland (seven) and at Rutgers (six).

They have to hold to the ‘one-game season.’

As much as it sounds like a coaches cliche, the Hoosiers, more than ever, have to keep their one-game-at-a-time mentality.

Again, the road has been a treacherous venue for Big Ten teams this season. And that’s what made a one-point loss to Maryland feel like such a missed opportunity, because a two-game road stretch was about to follow, which came with an increased risk of a prolonged losing skid.

But the Hoosiers can’t look at this with a macro lens. It’s just one game, win or lose, and on to the next.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to bounce back. They caught us on an off day,” Smith said. “I think defensively we played well in the first half, and we couldn’t take care of the ball. We’ll probably have a different outcome on Saturday.”

Next up are the Buckeyes, a team the Hoosiers were able to keep on a five-out-of-six losing skid not too long ago. But it’s hard to beat any team twice, especially an Ohio State squad that came into the season with expectations far outpaced by its current output.

“Going into their arena, I know it’s going to be really loud,” Jackson-Davis said. “They are a great team. We can’t underestimate how they’ve been playing because they are a top-5 team earlier this year, so we just gotta bring our energy and go to war, really.”

As much as one bad road loss can illicit panic from the outside, the Hoosiers can’t fall into the same trap. They have to hold tight in their locker room. Miller indicated there wasn’t much said after Wednesday’s second-half collapse.

They just have to move on.

“We didn’t play well. That’s on me,” Miller said. “We are going to have to play a lot better moving forward.”

What’s next?

Ohio State, 12 p.m. Saturday, in Columbus, Ohio

Last time out, the Hoosiers were able to have some success limiting Kaleb Wesson, holding him to a 3-of-11 outing from the floor. And two of his three makes came from 3-point range.

Can the Hoosiers hold their ground again?

Ohio State (13-7, 3-6 Big Ten) snapped out of its slide with a 71-59 win over Northwestern. In that game, Wesson posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Off the bench, freshman D.J. Carton provided 17 points.

The Buckeyes will be well-rested, because that outing with the Wildcats was played last Sunday.

4 comments

  1. Michigan is an awful team, in complete dis-array under an inexperienced (college) Coach.

    Our big men can completely dominate their decimated ranks.

    We are fortunate to face them next and I look for a “rebound” after the debacle earlier this week!

  2. I copied a reply I made to a statement made by H4H and I truly believe it sits at the center of I U’s problem. “H4H I want to take ONE of your statements and highlight it, because I truly think IT is a contributor to IU’s problem and it wouldn’t matter WHO was the coach. “Death by death to our storied high school single class tournament…creating death to truly measured grit and clutch performers…” the Motivation for the players to improve is gone because (and maybe rightfully so) Who is gonna look at a kid from a Class 1A school for a scholarship. To improve your skills is what motivated the small schools to compete in the state tournament. How much credibility would Larry Bird have received playing for French Lick and Class 1 A ?? they would say “What do you expect hes playing against small school with limited number of kids for participation” and that’s what is being said and demonstrated now. no more Connersville knocking off Crispus Attucks led by Oscar Robertson. The TRUE talent pool in Indiana high school basketball has been diluted by the lack of motivational competition …. instead of small school kids working to improve ; they ask “Why?” and trudge off to their smart phones”. I have seen some comment that DA doesn’t have the talent to play in BIG10 yet when he came out of high school he was regarded as the 3rd best player in the State. If the 3rd best player in the state doesn’t have the skill set to play in BIG 10 …then is it possible we OVER RATE the players based on Ghosts of the Past( and at age 70 I know a lot of “ghosts” to measure them against and Alford in High School wouldn’t break the top 10) perhaps a MORE discerning eye needs to be casted upon the ENTIRE talent in the state and not just the BIGGER Schools. It’s also time for the fan base to realize that with “progress” something IS lost and to evaluate IN STATE talent accordingly.

    1. TJT & H4H,

      I have thought this from the day the Hoosier State went to a class system. Sadly, it was done in the name of “fairness,” to the little schools. What it has done is deprive the smaller schools a shot at the real “Hoosier Hysteria” HS basketball legendary status. I know of small towns throughout Indiana where they still talk about the sectional winner from 19?? The worst part about it is in a lot of those little towns, they not only lost their ability to compete on the big stage of a single class tournament, but they lost their schools as well through school consolidation. What we have systematically done to these small towns is strip them of their identity.

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