Indiana will try to put a disappointing home loss to Maryland behind them as they hit the road for two games this week.
The first test comes in the form of the Penn State Nittany Lions, who appear to have one of their best teams in a generation under ninth year head coach Patrick Chambers. For the first time since March 1996, PSU has been ranked in the AP Top 25 this season after putting together an impressive resume of power five wins.
Indiana has shown recently that it can compete with and beat some of the best teams in the country. And that’s exactly what they’ll have to contend with on Wednesday night.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (15-5, 5-4) at No. 23/24 Penn State (14-5, 4-4)
- Tip time: Wednesday / 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pennsylvania
- Television: BTN (Stream)
- Series: Indiana leads 39-11 (Last meeting: Indiana won 64-62, 12/4/18)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes Penn State by around 6 points. KenPom likes PSU by 5.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Penn State Statistical Leaders
- Lamar Stevens (F) 16.7 ppg
- Myreon Jones (G) 14.3 ppg
- Mike Watkins (F) 7.9 rpg
- Lamar Stevens (F) 7.0 rpg
- Jamari Wheeler (G) 2.8 apg
- Myreon Jones (G) 2.8 apg
A look at KenPom No. 23 Penn State’s noteworthy metrics
Top 40 offensive efficiency. When you think of Penn State under head coach Pat Chambers you think of defense, but this year’s squad is better on offense. The Nittany Lions are No. 36 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 30 in adjusted defensive efficiency on the season, but they are No. 5 and No. 14 in Big Ten play, respectively. How good is the offense? PSU scored 90 points last week against a good Ohio State defense, and 76 against Maryland in December.
Uptempo offense. With an average possession length of 15.9 seconds, only Nebraska has shorter possessions in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions look to turn their defense into offense and score in transition.
Taking care of the basketball. Despite playing fast, PSU doesn’t turn it over. The Nittany Lions give it away on just 16.7 percent of possessions which comes in at No. 36 in the country.
Wreaking havoc. Penn State gets blocks on 15 percent of possessions and steals on 11.5 percent. Those figures are good for No. 13 and 33 in the country, respectively. A high number of blocks and steals helps to fuel the Nittany Lion transition offense going in the other direction. Even when you get a shot up against Penn State, the effective field goal percentage against their defense is just 45.1 percent, which comes in at No. 31 nationally. That figure rises to 48.3 percent in Big Ten play, however.
Foul play. All of that activity on defense does have a negative side, as PSU sends teams to the foul line at a high rate. Big Ten teams are getting a league best 24.8 percent of their points against Penn State at the foul line. With Indiana being one of the best teams in the country at getting to the stripe, IU’s free throw attempt totals will be interesting to watch.
- Miller Previews Penn State on Radio Show
- Pat Chambers Previews Indiana
- Q&A about Penn State basketball
SMITH vs. STEVENS A KEY MATCHUP
Penn State senior forward Lamar Stevens could surpass the 2,000 point mark against Indiana on Wednesday night.
A four year starter for PSU, the 6-foot-8 and 230 pound Stevens currently stands at 1,977 points for his illustrious career.
Stevens has scored in double figures in every game for more than a year on the calendar. While no one completely shuts him down, it was one of Indiana’s players that head coach Archie Miller believes put forth the best defensive effort against Stevens that he has seen.
“I remember when we played him last year, I thought that Justin Smith may have had the best individual performance of anybody who played against him last year,” Miller said. “He had him one on one almost the entire game.”
The 6-foot-7 and 229 pound Smith limited the Penn State standout to 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting last season.
Miller needs Smith to be up to the task once again on Stevens, who is averaging 16.7 points and 7 rebounds this season.
“He’s a difficult cover for everyone in the league,” Miller said. “Big guys tend to struggle when he faces you, but when you play a smaller guy he’s typically strong enough where he can really pound the paint and drive it and get fouled, too. So he’s without a doubt a major, major problem as we head into Wednesday night. Plus, as you watch him play, he’s a senior who is playing with a real purpose.”
It isn’t clear what direction Indiana might go when it comes to guarding Stevens if Smith gets into foul trouble or is otherwise out of the game. Redshirt sophomore Race Thompson would be one logical option, but Miller indicated that he is unlikely to be available to play against Penn State after falling hard to the ground against Michigan State last week.
One thing is certain — Stevens is a major focus of the Indiana game plan.
“It’s going to be a major concern for us going into the game on what we do with him, how we’re matched up with him,” Miller said.
MYREON JONES A MAJOR PERIMETER THREAT
It was difficult to predict such a significant boost in production from Penn State sophomore guard Myreon Jones.
After averaging 4 points and shooting 29.8 percent from the field as a freshman, Jones has gone from a rough season coming off the bench to a major role.
“Myeron Jones has really changed the complexion of their team,” Miller said. “He’s a perimeter-oriented player who will play the one or two for them, and when Myeron Jones has had big games on the perimeter, shooting the ball, scoring 20 some a game, that has really given them a lethal outside presence.”
Jones is Penn State’s second leading scorer, averaging 14.3 points per game while shooting 50.5 percent overall including 41.1 percent (44-of-107) from three-point range.
While the Nittany Lions look to get Jones involved in the offense through sets, head coach Pat Chambers believes the Birmingham, Ala. product thrives we he can freestyle.
“We defintely have a package for him, but when he’s just out there playing and watching the game unfold in front of him, he becomes a much better, powerful offensive player,” Chambers said at a press conference earlier this week.
Jones is 5-of-8 from three-point range in Penn State’s last two games — wins over Ohio State and Michigan. He averaged 18 points in those two contests.
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