With 14:39 left in the game, IU men’s basketball only trailed No. 24 Penn State by four points. Senior guard Devonte Green had the ball in transition after a missed 3-pointer by Penn State sophomore guard Myles Dread.
Green dribbled toward the paint, he threw the ball in the air for freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to catch in an alley-oop attempt. The pass was out of Jackson-Davis' reach, and he could only get one hand on the ball. It was an ill-advised pass at a time when IU was struggling to score.
Five seconds after the turnover, Dread came back down the court and made a 3-pointer. It was one instance where IU’s backcourt struggled in the Wednesday night 64-49 loss to Penn State on the road.
“Offensively, we were bad,” IU men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said. “The second half we just played terrible. We had a hard time getting anything to function offensively.”
The 49 points scored by IU was its lowest total of the season. IU also scored only 0.7 points per possession, which is the team’s worst performance since 2009 against Michigan State.
Alongside Green, the three other guards who appeared for IU – freshman Armaan Franklin, sophomore Rob Phinisee and junior Al Durham – combined for 10 points while shooting 11.5% from the field. The four guards also combined for seven of IU’s turnovers.
The Hoosiers found success by feeding the ball in the post, but they neglected that strategy in the second half. Senior center De’Ron Davis, junior center Joey Brunk and junior forward Justin Smith all found themselves in foul trouble throughout the game.
It forced the IU guards to try to handle the load offensively, and Penn State made them rush its offense throughout the night. The Nittany Lions came into the game leading the Big Ten in steals and forced 15 steals.
“It wasn’t just one guy, we couldn’t get anything going,” Miller said. “The second-half turnovers just mounted. We could never just get a grip. The turnovers and inability to score the ball was going to cave us in, and it did.”
IU’s had trouble scoring multiple times throughout the season. There hasn’t been another player outside of Jackson-Davis that the Hoosiers have been able to consistently rely on for scoring.
Green has found success at times as a high-scoring threat, but Wednesday night he struggled. The entire backcourt did. Road games won’t get any easier for IU or its backcourt with a trip to Ohio State up next.
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