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Penn State Basketball

5 Takeaways From Penn State Basketball’s Win Over Indiana

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Ace Baldwin

UNIVERSITY PARK— Penn State hasn’t swept Indiana much throughout its history.

Indiana’s thought of as a basketball school, and Penn State’s thought of as a football school that happens to have a basketball team.

But Penn State got the job done three weeks ago in Bloomington and did the same in State College with an 83-74 win Saturday afternoon.

As usual, point guard Ace Baldwin was the leading man, ending the game with 23 points and nine assists. But Baldwin wasn’t alone. Each of Penn State’s five starters ended the night in double figures, with Zach Hicks having another big day.

Here are five takeaways.

KEEPING IT GOING

A theme that Penn State basketball fans have picked up on over the years is that when the team pulls a big upset, it lays an egg the next time out. Mike Rhoades isn’t even through his first season as Penn State’s head coach but he already experienced an example of this last month. Penn State upset No. 11 Wisconsin, then proceeded to fall behind 16-0 at Ohio State and never came back against what’s been a bad Buckeye team. This past Wednesday, Penn State topped the Wisconsin upset by beating No. 12 Illinois at historic Rec Hall.

Penn State didn’t let history repeat itself Saturday.

Rhoades’ first season has been a challenging one. No Penn State coach has had a smooth first year since Jerry Dunn finished second in the Big Ten in 1995-96, when Rhaodes was just out of college. There have been multiple instances that led people to doubt Penn State, such as when it lost to Bucknell, blew a 16-point second-half lead to Minnesota at home or, more recently, when it lost three straight Big Ten games. But Rhoades is an optimistic guy, and emphasized that he’s never lost faith.

“Not me,” he said. “If you talk about a lack of belief, then people will think about it. If you take about getting better every day and moving forward and knowing that this is what we’re going to try to do and the good days and the bad days, you learn from them all. So, no, I mean, you’re talking to the wrong person when it comes to that. Just strap ‘em up, go to work and play.”

THE ZACH ATTACK

Zach Hicks has become one of Penn State’s most consistent players but it wasn’t always that way. The 6-foot-8, 200-pounder cracked double figures just six times before February, but now has accomplished that feat seven times in a row. Against Indiana, he went for 17 points and seven rebounds. Next to Ace Baldwin, he was the team’s top scorer. Penn State is going to need Hicks to make a push for a postseason bid. The team has tough road games at Iowa Tuesday and then at Minnesota Saturday. For Penn State to have any chance at an NIT and— if there’s any at-large hope left— an NCAA bid, chances are it will have to win one of those two games.

3PT DEFENSE

Indiana attempted 15 3-pointers and made two of them. That’s a pretty good look for Penn State’s 3-point defense, eh?

BACK TO .500

Penn State has now won as many games as its lost. For a lot of programs, that isn’t much, but considering the circumstances— new coach, new roster, losing to Bucknell etc.— finishing this season at .500 or better wouldn’t be too bad. But Penn State still has work to do, and the first game back will be Tuesday in Des Moines.

 

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