Penn State Men’s Basketball vs. Indiana Game Preview

Story posted January 1, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

After nearly a one-month hiatus from stepping onto the court, the Penn State Nittany Lions are ready to return to action.

Coach Micah Shrewsberry’s squad continues Big Ten play as the Indiana Hoosiers travel to University Park for the contest. Both teams have had their most recent matchups on their schedules canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks in their opponents’ programs.

This marks the first game for the Nittany Lions since Dec. 11, where the Blue and White fell to the No. 19 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing 80-64.

The events that folded after were three-straight cancellations due to an outbreak in the Nittany Lion locker room, causing the VCU and Quinnipiac games to be slashed from the schedule, and the Delaware State matchup to be postponed due to the Hornets’ problems circulating around the COVID-19.

A win for the Nittany Lions would give the team their first conference victory after falling in their two conference-opening games, looking to go 6-5 on the season and 1-2 in the Big Ten. Looking at recent history, these two teams love to go after each other with such ferocity.

In the last 10 matchups, the average margin of victory has been decided by 5.1 points per game. The last time these two teams met, Penn State came back down 12 points to force overtime, ultimately falling to the Hoosiers 87-85 in Bloomington. Since that game, the Nittany Lions have seen changes, with only four players remaining from that overtime game.

Senior guard Sam Sessoms, who now averages 13.3 points per game in 31.3 minutes per game, led those four players with 17 points, followed by Seth Lundy, averaging a team-high 14.7 points per game this season, with 10 of his own, with a majority of it coming from beyond the arc.

The Nittany Lions, with three scorers averaging double-digit points a night, rely heavily on the three-point shot. In eight games this campaign the team is shooting a 37.8% clip from downtown and makes 9.8 threes per game.

On the defensive side, Shrewsberry wants a consistent goal of holding opponents to under 60 points each game. So far, the Nittany Lions have held four out of their eight opponents to that mark.

Alongside their goal of under 60, the defense has held five out of their last seven opponents to ten points under their season averages of points per game.

Scouting Indiana

Stepping over the other side of the court, the Indiana Hoosiers are off to a great start, going 10-2 to start their season and 1-1 in the conference. They are led by first-year head coach Mike Woodson, a former Hoosier under legendary coach Bobby Knight.

Indiana will play its first game since Dec. 22 after their matchup against the UNC Asheville Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had to force a cancellation due to Covid-19 issues related to their program.

The success of the Hoosiers starts with forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is a dominant force underneath the basket. In 12 games this season, the big man averages 19.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Following up as role players are Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson. Thompson averages 10.9 points per game and Johnson adds 10.1 points per game.

As a team defensively, the Hoosiers allow 61.7 points per game while forcing 5.7 steals per game and 5.9 blocks per game. Jackson-Davis aids in the block category, averaging 3.2 blocks per game.

One thing to watch in this game is the battle in the paint. Graduate student forward John Harrar, averaging a double-double of 11.4 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game, has a tall task with defending Jackson-Davis.

With the task, the paint will be the biggest factor for both players, especially if Shrewsberry rotates the big men around by implementing Greg Lee, Jalanni White, or Jevonnie Scott.

Prediction: Indiana 79, Penn State 68

Jonathan Draeger is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at jrd6052@psu.edu.