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New year, old habits: Indiana unenergized in bad Big Ten road loss

The new year started with a performance all too familiar to Indiana fans. After a 61-58 loss on the road to a 6-5 Penn State team, the same questions people were asking for the past four years arose once again. Where is the energy? Where is the offense? What happened to the 3-point shooting? How is the rebounding margin that large? 

To be clear, Sunday was an exact microcosm of the last four years for Indiana. It was a team facing an inferior opponent with minimal energy that fell back into its old habits. 

Change can be difficult for any program. It can be hard to flip a switch in just one offseason and as this Mike Woodson rebuild has begun, Sunday was just another speed bump in that. 

In college basketball, good teams win the games they should win. Penn State on the road is a game Indiana should win. 

Whether it was the slow start, giving up 11 3-pointers, being out-rebounded by 10 or lacking bench production, it just simply wasn’t good enough. 

At times the Hoosier offense looked stagnant, was slow and had minimal movement. The floor spacing was poor on pick and rolls leading to a clogged paint and one-on-one play rarely led to IU points if it wasn’t Trayce Jackson-Davis.  

Penn State’s Jalen Pickett (22) moves to the basket on Indiana’s Jalen Pickett (22) during an NCAA college basketball game Sunday Jan 2, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Gary M. Baranec)(Gary M. Baranec / Associated Press)

Through the first 13 games of the season we’ve seen the ups and downs of Indiana’s offense. We’ve seen them score 100-plus points on the road but we’ve also seen them score fewer than 60 on the road. The inconsistencies need to be diminished and until they are, IU will continue to lose a game here and there that the team should win. 

Another glaring margin was the rebounding. The Hoosiers were out-rebounded 39 to 29 against Penn State, giving up 11 offensive rebounds. The Hoosier with the most rebounds against the Nittany Lions was Race Thompson with 10 but other than that the most was Jackson-Davis with five.

I point the finger straight at Trayce [Jackson-Davis]. Five rebounds in 33 minutes. That’s not good enough. He’s got to rebound the basketball. That’s his job,” Woodson said. 

Rebounding is a statistic that directly shows effort and hustle. IU didn’t have that Sunday as it was the first time Indiana had been out-rebounded this season and the margin was 10. Yikes. 

Indiana also gave up 11 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting. It’s the highest percentage given up all year. The barrage came at some of the worst times for the Hoosiers, like early in the second half where the Nittany Lions made four consecutive 3-pointers leading to a 10-point IU deficit. 

On the offensive side of things, Indiana only had four 3-pointers. 

Coming into the Penn State game, it had been 11 days since the Hoosiers last played due to a cancellation last week, which could explain the sluggish start.

“I just didn’t think we had any juice starting out,” Woodson said. 

That “juice” will be necessary against a top-15 opponent in Ohio State later this week.

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