After a four-game run of quality play in the Big Ten, the Penn State men’s basketball team has lost two straight and is in danger of losing a third.
Although the Nittany Lions beat Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center Jan. 2, the Hooisers are 14-5 with wins over Ohio State and Purdue. Indiana is 12-1 at Assembly Hall, with its only home loss coming this past Sunday against Michigan, and the Nittany Lions haven’t won in Bloomington since February of 2014. The Hooisers are 5-0 against Penn State at home since then, and come into tonight games as 8.5 point favorites according to current college basketball odds.
The Hoosiers are led by super sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis, who averages 18.6 points (fourth in the Big Ten) and 8.6 rebounds per game (third). The 6-foot-9 forward is also second in the conference in blocks, averaging 2.7 a game. Also in Indiana’s front court, 6-foot-8 Race Thompson has contributed 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. In the front court, former Pitt Panther Xavier Johnson is the third Hoosier averaging double figures, chipping in 10.2 points per game.
Collectively, Indians offense is seventh in the Big Ten in points per game, which is middle-of-the-road, but also well ahead of Penn State, which ranks dead last in 14th. The Hoosiers are also fourth in the conference in rebounding, whereas Penn State ranks 12th, ahead of only Nebraska and Minnesota.
Despite losing by 17 Saturday at Iowa, the Nittany Lions got a boost with the return of Seth Lundy, who was out in Penn State’s previous game at Ohio State. Lundy leads the Lions in scoring with 13.7 points per game, and the junior has also established himself as a lockdown defender. The Hoosiers kept Lundy in check in the first meeting between the two teams, holding him to eight points and 2-10 from the field. Lundy did have ten rebounds in the win over Indiana, however, and getting boards will be essential against one of the top rebounding squads in the Big Ten.
The first meeting between the two teams was a back-and-forth affair on the first Sunday of 2022 that wasn’t decided until the final whistle. Two missed Indiana three pointers in the final five seconds sealed the win for Penn State. Jalen Pickett scored 15 points for the Nittany Lions and Myles Dread added 12 on four three pointers.
Tip-off for tonight’s game is at 8:30 on the Big Ten Network. Penn State fans who can’t watch the game can listen to Steve Jones and Dick Jerardi on one of these affiliates.