A great opportunity to get a quality road win over a ranked opponent quickly turned into disaster for Indiana as the Hoosiers fell short to Penn State 64-49 for their second straight loss.
After turning in arguably its best offensive performance of the season last Sunday in a narrow one-point loss to Maryland, Indiana put up its lowest point total of the year and an abysmal offensive showing Wednesday.
As it stands, the Hoosiers are now 15-6 overall and are 5-5 in the Big Ten. Just six days after a statement win over No. 11 Michigan State, Indiana’s momentum is gone and their legitimacy is, yet again, in question.
Good: Trayce Jackson-Davis
There wasn’t much for Indiana to hang its hats on, but Trayce Jackson-Davis’ performance was certainly the most positive takeaway for the Hoosiers.
The freshman forward had a solid stat line of 14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. His play was not anything out of the norm, but he was really the only consistent threat Wednesday for Indiana.
What made his performance more impressive was the foul trouble that Indiana’s big men faced all night, limiting the impact of Joey Brunk, Justin Smith and De’Ron Davis. Davis and Smith both had four fouls and Brunk ended up with three.
To perform the way Jackson-Davis did when being guarded by Penn State’s Lamar Stevens, one of the Big Ten’s best players, adds to the impressiveness as well.
Bad: Road struggles
If this game proved an underlying theme from the season, it’s that Indiana just can’t play well on the road.
The Hoosiers are now 1-4 on the road. The one win came against Big Ten bottom-feeder Nebraska who is 7-14 overall and 2-8 in the league. Every other road loss has been among Indiana’s absolute worst performances on the season.
When Indiana has lost on the road, the losses have come by an average of 15 points. Ugly play from Indiana when playing away from home has become a staple and Wednesday was an example of that.
Tonight, Indiana shot an underwhelming 33 percent from the field and was just 2-for-11 from 3-point range. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 17 times and only reached nine assists as a team.
The lackluster showing follows two very quality offensive games from Indiana against Michigan State and Maryland. The kicker? Those games were at home.
It’s important they have the Nebraska road win, but Indiana needs some more road wins to validate its season success.
Ugly: Guard play
It’s not a secret that when Indiana gets one-dimensional as an offense and only the post players are contributing, it’s not pretty basketball.
Being one-dimensional for any team is bad, but it’s become far too common where Indiana has to purely rely on its frontcourt to stay in games.
Wednesday’s game was indicative of that struggle again. Two post players, Jackson-Davis and Smith, were Indiana’s best guys and the only ones who reached double figures in scoring.
Other than them, Indiana did not have a player score over six points. The guards did not provide much of anything.
Combined, Rob Phinisee, Devonte Green, Al Durham and Armaan Franklin put up 10 points from an abysmal rate of 3-for-26 shooting from the field.
With no scoring and little ball movement, as indicated by the nine total team assists, it’s no surprise Indiana had its lowest point total of the season.