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Road woes: Hoosiers’ slow start and poor rebounding lead to loss at Penn State

As one problem seems solved, another one arises for the Hoosiers.

Turnovers seem to be solved, at least for the time being, as IU only gave it away a season low six times in a 61-58 loss to Penn State.

However, other issues became abundantly clear throughout the game. The Hoosiers were out-rebounded, shot poorly from beyond the three-point line, missed crucial free throws, and could not close out the game the way they wanted to.

Coming off a 10-day layoff, they also did not start the game how they imagined.

“I didn’t think we had any juice starting out,” Woodson told Don Fischer after the game.

The lack of intensity allowed the Nittany Lions– a team that hasn’t played in 21 days– to get comfortable. In the first half, they were able to drive the lane and penetrate to find open looks. They shot 5-of-11 from three for 45.5 percent and 10-of-24 from the field for 41.7 percent before the break.

The early scoring gave them confidence heading into halftime.

The Hoosiers came out of the locker room strong by going on a 10-4 run to regain a three-point lead, however, Penn St. caught fire again from deep. They capitalized on back-to-back Indiana turnovers with two threes in transition. This led to a 13-4 run after another three and two baskets and a 10-point lead for the Nittany Lions.

“It just wasn’t good enough for me,” Woodson said of the defense.

“We weren’t touching guys. We weren’t up making them feel us like we have been in the past. And that’s kind of disappointing.”

On the other end, the Hoosiers could not buy a basket from downtown. As a group, they shot a combined 4-of-17 for 23.5 percent from downtown.

Miller Kopp hit an early three in the first half, but only attempted one three the rest of the game. The Hoosiers’ best three-point shooter, Parker Stewart who was shooting 49.1 percent from deep before the game, went 0-for-2.

“We couldn’t make shots,” added Woodson. “We’ve been better than that this year.”

The apparent lack of effort also carried over to rebounding. Despite having the advantage in size and athleticism, the Hoosiers were out-hustled on the boards. Penn St. was able to hold a 39-29 rebound advantage. This included 11 offensive rebounds to the Hoosiers’ nine.

During a crucial moment down the stretch, Indiana managed to pick up the defensive intensity and held Penn St. to a four-minute scoring drought. They forced Seth Lundy into a bad shot, but he managed to get his own rebound and put up a shot. His second-chance effort was blocked, but Myles Dredd found the ball. This led to a missed three by Sam Sessoms, however, Penn St. once again got the offensive rebound. Although they ultimately went scoreless, it showed their ruthless effort on the boards.

Woodson put the brunt of the blame on preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis. The six-foot-nine-inch forward is supposed to be the anchor on the boards for the team. Despite finishing with a team-high 20 points, Jackson-Davis was held to single-digit rebounds.

“I point the finger straight at Trayce (Jackson-Davis),” Woodson said.

“Five rebounds in 33 minutes. That’s not good enough. He’s got to rebound the basketball. That’s his job. He’s the biggest player we got on our team. He’s gotta be a double-double guy. And I’m going to make sure he knows that.”

Despite the poor shooting night, the Hoosiers still found themselves in a tight game down the stretch due to seven points from Rob Phinisee– who totaled nine points and two assists off the bench– down the stretch. However, missed free throws by Xavier Johnson and two missed baskets at point-blank range from Jackson-Davis came back to haunt the Hoosiers.

Jackson-Davis still had a chance to redeem himself and score the go-ahead basket. But his running left hook shot didn’t fall. Nor did his or Phinisee’s game-tying three-point attempt.

“He missed at least two down the stretch that were big shots. And then, you take Xavier’s free throw that would’ve tied the game. That’s huge too.” Woodson added.

The Hoosiers remain winless on the road since January 21, 2021, when they defeated then-No. 4 ranked Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They will get another chance on the road when they take on the Hawkeyes in their next road contest on January 13.

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”