Indiana’s faint glimmer of NCAA Tournament hope crashed and burned on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington.
For a while things looked promising. IU led 34-23 with 5:15 remaining in the first half. But they were outscored a difficult to comprehend 62-37 the rest of the way in what turned out to be a comfortable by Penn State — a team with a losing record, down their leading scorer, and no NCAA Tournament hopes of their own.
Let’s take a deeper look at how IU lost 85-71 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (13-9, 5-6) will next travel to Ohio State on Tuesday.
Indiana was 2o-of-33 from two. They made 16-of-19 from the free throw line. This was a game where they probably could have overcome another poor shooting day from three (5-of-19) — if they only played some defense.
Penn State did a good job at least limiting attempts by Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau. They took a combined 22 shots, but many of those came via their seven offensive rebounds. When it came to half-court offense, Penn State doubled or helped in the post as much and as aggressively as almost anyone has. It was a make someone else beat you strategy, and despite high-end efficiency by the pair, it did impact the game.
But even more impactful was the lack of production by Indiana’s guards and bench — especially with the opportunities that arose when PSU doubled the post.
Penn State presses and traps at times. They cause a lot of turnovers. Indiana had 13 giveaways, certainly not an insurmountable number. But the press did often put them late in the shot clock and scrambling to get into anything resembling an offense.
IU had 11 offensive rebounds and scored 14 second chance points. Their 42.3 percent offensive rebounding rate was their second highest of the season.
The Hoosiers scored 1.15 point per possession. They’ve won 10 games this year while scoring less. And that tells you where the real problems were.
Let this sink in: Indiana allowed 1.38 points per possession to a team that came in ranked outside the national top-100 in offensive efficiency. That was the third most points per possession allowed in a game this season by the Hoosiers, and the most at home. Looking at it from the other side, it was the most point per possession scored in a game this season by PSU, with the next highest total being 1.22.
Indiana seemed a step slow in every facet of their defense — guarding the ball, closing out on shooters, and protecting the paint. And that’s a formula for a very long day. It was.
One aspect of Penn State’s offense stood out to Woodson a problem for Indiana.
“I thought defensively, our switching and recognizing they run a lot of what we call ghost screens,” Woodson said. “We just didn’t handle them correctly. I mean, we weren’t up to touch tonight. I mean, just thought we had good intentions when we started the game because we came out aggressive and it just kind of wore — wore away.”
Trey Galloway summarized it more succinctly.
“They were just playing harder than us,” he said.
Somehow Woodson left his freshman guard Gabe Cupps on an island against Ace Baldwin for almost the entire game. With the 22-year-old Baldwin (22 points, 8 assists) in control of that matchup, everything else crumbled behind it.
Yes Malik Reneau was probably less than 100 percent, and Xavier Johnson no doubt could have helped against Baldwin. A lot.
But there’s just no excuse. Not against this team. Not in Bloomington. Not with this much on the line.
Penn State came into the game shooting 30.5 percent (No. 305 in the nation) from three but made 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) despite missing their best shooter and leading scorer Kanye Clary. But just as troubling was the IU interior defense — even while playing two big men. PSU shot 59.3 percent from two.
IU also only forced six turnovers (against 17 assists).
Your eyes told you the effort just wasn’t there, and the numbers, from just about every angle, confirm it.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- IU’s loss to Penn State is damaging, both short-term and big picture
- Watch: Woodson, Galloway and Ware discuss loss to Penn State
- IU basketball: Penn State 85 Indiana 71 — Three keys, highlights, final stats
*Trey Galloway (C) When the senior guard struggles to make open threes, Indiana generally struggles on offense. Teams are giving Galloway looks to take away other more pressing threats, and he was 1-of-6 from deep before a very late make. This overshadowed a six assist, one turnover, two steal game.
*Mackenzie Mgbako (C-) Mgbako hasn’t been as efficient on the offensive end lately, and that creates challenges because he’s been a bit of a drag on the offense, and an inconsistent defender as well. And Mgbako hasn’t been able to replicate the high-end effort we saw against Illinois.
*Malik Reneau (C) Probably because of his ankle injury and limited reps over the last few days, Reneau was a step slow, and that led to foul trouble and turnovers. He also lacked his trademark physicality and footwork on the block.
*Kel’el Ware (C+) Ware recorded his second straight and ninth career double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He was perfect at the line. But most of that (17 points, 7 rebounds) was done in the first half. The effort didn’t seem to be there when it came to protecting the rim — he was not nearly as impactful on defense as he was against Iowa.
*Gabe Cupps (D) Is it fair to criticize Cupps for struggling in a difficult matchup, or should that go to his coach for leaving him in that spot for far too long? It is fair to suggest Cupps isn’t impacting the game on the offensive end right now with any degree of consistency.
Anthony Leal (D) Leal looked nothing like the high-impact player we saw against Iowa. He missed from three and turned it over. With Johnson out, IU needed much more.
C.J. Gunn (D) Gunn is another player who could have capitalized on an opportunity, especially to make an impact on the defensive end. He didn’t make a difference, and his shots aren’t falling.
Anthony Walker also appeared in the game.
Payton Sparks and Kaleb Banks did not play, coach’s decision.
Jakai Newton (knee) is out long-term.
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