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What To Watch For: 1-0 Indiana set to host Portland State

After a 98-65 battering of Western Illinois on Tuesday, Indiana sets its sights on Portland State for its second game of the season on Saturday.

Al Durham during Indiana’s season opening win over Western Illinois. Durham finished the night a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, scoring 21. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Portland State, like IU, is 1-0 after the Vikings defeated Puget Sound in a very similar outcome, winning by a score of 94-69.

A season ago, the Vikings were a .500 team with a 16-16 record before getting bounced in their first game of the Big Sky Tournament by Weber State. What Portland State lacks in success from a year ago it makes up for this season by retaining a very experienced rotation.

Four of the five members of the starting lineup are upperclassmen with three of them being seniors. It should be noted as well that that three of their starters are also transfers.

Indiana will pay particular attention to Holland Woods, Sal Nuhu and Matt Hauser, who are some of Portland State’s best playmakers.

Woods is a junior and three-year starter for the Vikings and has found plenty of success throughout his collegiate career. As a sophomore, his stat line included scoring 15 points, 5.3 assists and three rebounds per game. In the win over Puget Sound, he had 12 points along with five assists and five steals.

Nuhu, a senior and the team’s starting center, is expected to take a big leap in production for the Vikings in his final season. He had 12 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in his one game of action thus far. For a 6-foot-8 center, he protects the rim particularly well. In his junior year he had 64 blocks, an average of two per game.

Hauser, a guard and graduate transfer from Idaho, is already making an impact with his new team. He was the leading scorer with 13 points in the win over Puget Sound while also corralling three boards and steals.

On paper, if IU can limit the offensive production of the three standouts listed, the Hoosiers could be sitting in prime position to have success offensively. Portland State’s starting lineup is significantly smaller than Indiana’s.

Portland State’s starters are as follows:

  • Holland Woods: 6-foot-1
  • Matt Hauser: 6-foot-2
  • Chris Whitaker: 6-foot-3
  • Alonzo Walker: 6-foot-6
  • Sal Nuhu: 6-foot-8

With IU’s depth in the frontcourt and a starting lineup that features post players Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk at 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-11, respectively, IU has a real chance to dominate on the low post.

Portland State’s struggles as a team are reminiscent of Indiana’s usual issues as well. The Vikings typically have issue converting both at the free throw line and from 3-point range.

As a team, in the win over Puget Sound, Portland State shot 64.5% from the charity stripe and was just two for 15 on 3-point attempts. The Hoosiers were particularly better from deep and slightly better from the free-throw line in their first game. Indiana shot 45.5% from three and 68% from the free throw line in the win over Western Illinois.

If the Hoosiers can hold their ground defensively in the paint and force the Vikings to take outside looks, while taking advantages of the mismatches presented between the two lineups on offense, they should be able to take control of the game.

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