Indiana Daily Student

IU looks to slow Big Ten's leading scorer

Junior guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell celebrates with teammates during IU's game against Ohio State on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
Junior guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell celebrates with teammates during IU's game against Ohio State on Saturday at Assembly Hall.

D.J. Newbill does a bit of everything for Penn State.

The senior guard’s scoring average is nearly untouched. His 21.3 points per game leads the Big Ten by 2.4 points per game over Nebraska’s Terran Petteway. A Penn State captain, Newbill is hauling in 4.7 rebounds, dishing 2.9 assists and forcing 1.5 steals per game in his return to his more natural position at shooting guard.

By all measures, Newbill is having the best season in his career and arguably the best individual season in the Big Ten thus far.

On Tuesday, he’ll look to lead his Nittany Lions team to its first Big Ten win this season on the road at Assembly Hall.

“He’s a do-it-all guy,” Penn State Coach Patrick Chambers said. “He’s one of the best guards in the league — top five at least. He’s defending, he’s rebounding, he’s leading, he’s doing all the little things that we’re asking him to do.”

At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Newbill has the size and physicality to move around smaller guards on the floor. He creates a matchup problem for IU, who doesn’t necessarily have a shooting guard to defend him.

Junior guard Yogi Ferrell, who IU Coach Tom Crean has repeatedly said is the Hoosiers’ best defender, will likely be charged with defending Newbill, but he won’t be alone in trying to slow him down.

Newbill is used on 29 percent of available possessions and 92 percent of Penn State’s available minutes. Because the ball is so often in Newbill’s hands, Crean said guarding Newbill will be a team effort.

“He really elevates,” Crean said. “You have to be aware of him before he gets the ball, and you have to have a plan when he gets it.”

Newbill does most of his damage either driving to the basket, where he shoots just shy of 59 percent, or near the center of the floor. According to shotanalytics.com, Newbill is hitting 50 percent of his 3-point attempts from the top of the key and is even more efficient on the left wing, where he hits 65 percent of his jump shots.

Newbill has struggled to find his stroke in the right corner beyond the arc, where he is only shooting 30 percent. He also shoots less than 20 percent on jumpshots along the baseline, but he rarely shoots from those spots.

Crean said what’s really concerning about Newbill is that while he is a dangerous scorer, he also opens the floor for teammates because of all of the attention he garners.

“They can really score the ball, and it’s more than just D.J. Newbill,” Crean said. “Obviously, he’s doing a fantastic job at scoring, and he’s one of the better scorers in the country, but it’s their physicality, their ability to shoot quick, their ability to space the floor and put numerous guys out on the floor who can make shots that makes them so hard to play against.”

Newbill’s journey to Penn State was a bit of a roller coaster. Coming out of high school, he was going to play at Marquette, until his scholarship fell through late in recruiting and forced him to look elsewhere.

He spent a year at Southern Mississippi, where he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team before transferring to Penn State, which was closer to his home in Philadelphia.

After sitting out his mandatory year due to transfer rules, he ended up leading Penn State when star guard Tim Frazier suffered a season-ending injury two years ago. In his place, Newbill took over as the leading scorer and has been a cornerstone of Penn State’s offense ever since.

Chambers said he leans on Newbill, now a senior leader, more than ever and will need the most out of him tonight.

“His leadership has been outstanding, his approach to practice this week coming off two tough losses has been outstanding,” Chambers said. “As long as we keep that mentality, we’ll see the pendulum swing our way.”

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