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Penn State Hoops Falls Victim To 74-57 Beatdown Against Indiana

Penn State men’s basketball (8-9, 3-6 Big Ten) failed to keep up with red-hot Indiana (15-5, 6-4 Big Ten) in a lopsided 74-57 road loss at Assembly Hall.

The Nittany Lions failed to score in each of its first seven possessions, helping Indiana blast out to a 12-0 lead over the opening four minutes of action. Unfortunately for Penn State, the offensive struggles continued to mount for Micah Shrewsberry’s group, as the visitors began the game shooting an abysmal 5-for-30 from the field. The lack of output contributed to the worst single-half shooting percentage of the young head coach’s tenure at 16.7%.

Although Micah Shrewsberry’s unit regrouped back to its typical offensive ways in the second half, the margin was too extensive to overcome despite strong shooting displays from Jalen Pickett and Myles Dread.

How It Happened

The Hoosiers controlled the opening tipoff, and immediately turned to star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis in the lost post, who converted an effortless layup at the expense of John Harrar. After seven-straight empty possessions for Penn State, Indiana capitalized on an explosive 12-0 run, catapulting to a commanding double-digit lead.

Nearly five minutes into the matchup, Seth Lundy sifted through the Hoosier defense on an opportune fast break to finally put the Nittany Lions on the board. The momentum was short-lived, however, when Xavier Johnson drilled a three-pointer to put the home squad ahead 15-2 right before the first media timeout.

Assembly Hall continued to rock in the early going, as Race Thompson helped pile onto Penn State’s mounting struggles with a ferocious slam nearly halfway through the opening half. For the first time in the contest, the Nittany Lions answered the bell with its most established series of the night, ending with a Jalanni White hook shot in the low post, despite trailing 17-5.

In a common theme, Indiana stormed back with vengeance, embarking on a 5-0 run of its own to capture its largest lead of the contest at 17 points. The valiant effort of John Harrar helped the Nittany Lions respond with a strong-willed three-point-play, resulting in a much-needed spark for the visitors in the face of adversity.

Shrewberry’s group failed to keep up with the red-hot Hoosiers after Harrar’s and-one, which sparked a 11-0 run by Indiana spanning over four minutes . The stretch, led by Trey Galloway and Thompson, further extended the margin to a ghastly 31-8 clip in the Nittany Lions’ worst offensive start of the current campaign.

Still, the Nittany Lions were unable to garner any sort of shooting momentum from the field, but Greg Lee continued to scrape his way towards the hole for free throw opportunities. The senior helped stop the opposing push by nailing a pair of free throws, but it wasn’t enough to shutdown Indiana’s offensive masterpiece.

With just under five minutes remaining in the first half, the Hoosiers jumped out to a 17-4 run to take a 39-12 lead. The one-sided affair, which easily marked the Nittany Lions’ largest deficit of the season, continued to expand through 65% first-half shooting by Mike Woodson’s revenge-minded squad.

Towards the end of the half, Jackson-Davis sent the Hoosier faithful into a frenzy courtesy of a highlight-reel slam over Jevonnie Scott to extend the lead well over 30-points. In by far its worst half of play in Shrewsberry’s tenure, Penn State entered the locker room trailing 46-17.

Despite beginning the second half just as cold as the first, Penn State converted two-straight three-points after starting 0-for-2. The run, courtesy of Pickett and Dread, cut the deficit to inside of 30 points, allowing the Nittany Lions to slowly climb back into competitiveness.

Indiana continued to steadily maintain its advantage, but Penn State’s vastly improved shooting percentage began to show its teeth in the midst in the second half with another Jalen Pickett deep ball, cutting the mark to 53-28 disadvantage.

Just as the Nittany Lions reverted back their steady ways, Jackson-Davis’ athleticism poured on the visiting squad’s parade. With just under 12 minutes to go, the Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten honoree hammered in a one-handed dunk off of a Rob Phinisee lob, resulting in a raucous reaction from the nearby student section. The jam extended the Hoosier advantage to an insurmountable 58-32 clip.

The two squads contend to battle by trading baskets in what looked-to-be the previously expected competitive outcome sought throughout the first half. Once again, the combination of Pickett and Dread carried the Nittany Lions to a 5-0 run, brining the score to 65-40. But, Penn State was caught lacking on the next defensive possession on a back-door cut by Miller Koop, who lofted up an easy two for the home team.

Pickett continued to put the visitors on his back behind efficient shooting from downtown. The Sienna transfer spearhead an 11-0 run over the course of nearly three minutes. Following Pickett’s three-ball, Seth Lundy finally returned to his sweet-shooting self by delivering another three points for the Nittany Lions, which helped cut the Hoosier advantage to a 67-51 margin.

Penn State’s shocking comeback effort stayed steady thanks to a deliberate post move by Harrar. Just as quickly as the deficit started to shrink, the Hoosier combination of Johnson and Galloway spearheaded a timely run to stave off the second-effort. Ultimately, the tremendous shooting display led to a 74-57 victory for Indiana despite Penn State’s commendable second half.

Takeaways

  • For the third-straight matchup, the Nittany Lions failed to amass any sort of offensive rhythm from the opening tipoff. Whether Pickett, Lundy, and Dread tried to jumpstart the backcourt from deep, or Harrar and White attempted to gather consistency in the post, the team was responsible for just five made baskets in the first half. Furthermore, the Hoosiers scored more than 20 points off of suffocating defense, led by five blocks and four steals. If Penn State wants reverse its conference losing streak, it cannot dig itself into lengthy offensive lolls similar to its latest outings.
  • For Penn State to be at its best, John Harrar needs to be more involved in its half-court game plan. The Delaware County native is currently enjoying career highs in points and rebounds per game, but only took six shots against Woodson’s crew. Without much front court depth behind him, Harrar needs to up his offensive aggression in his next showing with Iowa.
  • Despite an inexcusable first-half output, the Nittany Lions’ fight never wavered in the second half. Impressively, Penn State shot 8-for-16 from behind the arc down the stretch, led by 14 points from Jalen Pickett. Despite the high volume of three-point conversions, it was too little too late for Shrewsberry and company.

What’s Next

Penn State will return home from its two-game road stand for its next matchup against Iowa. Tipoff from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, January 31, and it will air on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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