Game Preview: Penn State vs. Indiana
The Indiana Hoosiers (6-2, 1-0) travel to University Park, PA to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-3, 0-1) in the Bryce Jordan Center, tipping off at 7 o’clock on Tuesday.
Indiana enters this contest fresh off a nail-biter against the Northwestern Wildcats, at the Hoosiers’ home in Bloomington. As has been the case all year, Indiana was led by the dynamic duo of freshmen sensation Romeo Langford and veteran senior Juwan Morgan.
Langford was second among all scorers, totaling 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting, as well as dishing out a team-high three assists. Morgan posted his fourth double-double of the season, going for 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 68-66 victory over the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions are coming off a tough road loss to the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, MD. Penn State had upset the previously 13th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the game before, but it fell just short in its bid for another victory over a top-25 team.
Recently cleared-to-play junior Mike Watkins was in foul trouble all night long, as he totaled only 11 minutes on the night with no points or rebounds to show for his effort.
Lamar Stevens upped his streak to seven straight games with double-digit scoring, but it took him an inefficient 24 shots to get to 19 points.
Indiana and Penn State are two vastly different programs. With Indiana, they are led by second-year head coach Archie Miller, who previously had unbelievable success with the Dayton Flyers.
The Hoosiers are a blue blood program trying to reinvent themselves, and with the recent 21-point loss to the highly touted Duke Blue Devils and their impressive freshmen, it’s safe to say that Miller still has some distance to make up before being on the same level as Bobby Knight’s squads of the past.
Meanwhile, head coach Patrick Chambers is in his eighth year with Penn State and is coming off his most successful season yet, going 26-13 with an NIT championship. Nittany Lion fans are feeling as good about their program as they ever have, and for good reason.
Stevens has done everything expected of a player in his role, but who will help him? Watkins has just returned to action and was never much of an offensive threat outside five feet, to begin with. Select freshmen such as Rasir Bolton and Myreon Jones have shined against Maryland and Virginia Tech, respectively, but who is going to consistently step up and be the Robin to Stevens’ Batman?
Senior Josh Reaves may very well be that man after going for a season-high 17 points against Maryland in the losing effort. However, Reaves is best known for his defense, and so is the rest of this Penn State team. The Nittany Lions are not going to outshoot teams, coming in at 279th in the country in scoring. So, precisely how will they beat a high-powered Indiana offense that is averaging over 80 points per game?
It requires a select few individuals to step up. First, Watkins must shut down arguably the best big man in the Big Ten in Morgan. Watkins is taller, albeit slighter, and if he can alter Morgan’s shot with his long frame, then the battle for points in the paint can favor the Nittany Lions. Reaves will need to focus in on containing Langford for the better part of 40 minutes of play, which is no easy task, to say the least.
For Indiana, if it plays its typical offensive game and limits Stevens from getting into too many isolation situations, this team is relatively one-dimensional. Force the freshmen to beat you, even if it means yielding uncontested threes to the likes of Jones and Bolton. They may have emerged in recent contests, but they are still far from being players that should be counted on by coach Pat Chambers.
In front of a sleepy, Tuesday night crowd, expect the Hoosiers to take care of business at the BJC, barring another offensive outburst from some of the unsung freshmen on Penn State’s roster.
Final Score: Indiana 76, Penn State 61
Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.