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Penn State basketball needs to right the ship vs. Indiana

The Nittany Lions are in a must-win situation after dropping two-straight conference games.



Jan 1, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; A general view of the Bryce Jordan Center prior to the game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the 2022-23 season with an 11-3 overall record, Penn State basketball (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) has dropped two-straight conference games. Now, the Nittany Lions must right the ship against the Indiana Hoosiers (10-5, 1-3 Big Ten).

Previewing the Indiana Hoosiers

This Wednesday, Penn State basketball is set to host Indiana. Though the Hoosiers’ season is not going as planed thus far, Indiana is still a great team and is dangerous across the court. Surprisingly, IU started the 2022-23 season with a 7-0 record which included wins over No. 18 North Carolina, Xavier, and more. Still, over the past eight games this year, the Hoosiers are 3-5 overall and 1-3 in conference play.

Indiana is not ranked heading into this game and its 1-3 Big Ten record places the Hoosiers at 12th (of 14 teams) in the conference standings. Still, ESPN gives IU a 54.6 percent chance of beating Penn State in Happy Valley. IU comes into its matchup with Penn State averaging 80.9 points-per-game, allowing 68.3 points-per-game, and shooting 51 percent from the floor. Additionally, the Hoosiers are shooting about 38 percent from 3-point-range and 69.3 percent from the free throw line.

Seeing as Penn State basketball is one of the best free throw teams in America and Indiana is one of the worst, this game could come down to how well the Nittany Lions perform at the charity stripe.

Players to watch

The Hoosiers are one of the more-talented teams in the conference and are dangerous all over the floor. Here are three Indiana star players to watch against Penn State basketball.

Trayce Jackson-Davis

Trayce Jackson-Davis heads into the Penn State game as Indiana’s leader in pointer-per-game (PPG), rebounds-per-game (RPG), and blocks-per-game (BPG). Jackson-Davis averages 17.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 2.8 BPG. Jackson-Davis — currently a senior at IU — stands at 6-9 and weighs in at 245 lbs. To say the least, Penn State basketball will have their hands full with Indiana’s star center.

Jalen Hood-Schifino

Jalen Hood-Schifino — a freshman guard at Indiana — leads the Hoosiers in steals-per-game (1.1) and assists-per-game (4.6). On top of that, the 6-6, 215 lbs guard is shooting 45 percent from the floor, and averaging 13.4 PPG, 4.6 assists-per-game (APG), and 4.3 RPG. This freshman will likely give the Nittany Lions fits all night long.

Xavier Johnson

Xavier Johnson is a senior guard on Indiana’s roster, and is the Hoosiers’ 3rd-highest scorer on the season. As things stand right now, Johnson is averaging nearly 10 PPG (9.9), 3.3 RBG, and 4.9 APG. On top of that, Johnson plays his best basketball on the road this season (10.5 PPG) and is historically one of Indiana’s top players (averaging double digits since the 2018-19 season). Johnson will be an issue, and Penn State basketball must find a way to limit the Hoosiers’ veteran scorer.

Penn State basketball needs a win

Despite winning 11 of its first 14 games this year, Penn State basketball now has two-straight conference losses this year and a losing record in Big Ten play. Penn State needs to improve to 12-4 for the sake of the program’s tournament hopes if nothing else.

Though PSU has a decent record, its lack of Q1 and Q2 wins will be a hinderance come tournament time. Penn State basketball is hosting IU, so this is a very winnable game for Shrewsberry and Co.

The months of January, February, and March will all be tough on the Nittany Lions; after all, we are now in the thick of conference play, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here. If Penn State basketball wants to remain competitive, it must get back on track with a win over IU. A win would improve the Nittany Lions’ overall record to 12-4 and its conference record to 3-3 on the season. While this is likely not enough to get ranked, it would keep Penn State’s foot in the door when it comes to its March Madness hopes.

Penn State basketball is set to host Indiana at 7:00 PM (EST) at the Bryce-Jordan Center in State College, PA on Wednesday, January 11th.


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