New year, new coach, but same Indiana.
No matter how much we want to see it happen, Indiana can never get the job done against contenders in their conference — especially in close game situations.
As the season goes on, Indiana men’s basketball will play against more skilled competition than their easier non-conference games. That’s why it was so hard to take Indiana’s early success seriously.
The Penn State Nittany Lions played with extreme confidence, shooting 7-11 from the field including 3-4 from 3-point range to open the second half. However, it was evident neither team was ready to play after their long breaks from action.
It was rare to see the Hoosiers be outrebounded, considering the presence of the big man duo of senior forward Race Thompson and junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who usually dominate the boards.
Indiana had a hard time building momentum offensively, while Penn State trailed behind them but managed to keep the score close for the majority of the first half. There was a lot of isolation basketball displayed from Indiana and head coach Mike Woodson’s substitution patterns were not up to par.
Indiana’s offense was very stagnant, which reminded me of how Indiana terribly ran its offense in the past with Archie Miller as head coach — two bigs clogging the paint, a lot of standing around and not running sets to build offensive flow.
You could tell Indiana’s energy was non-existent, and the guards only scored six points on 2-16 field goals in the first half. It was really evident to where Indiana began to crumble defensively and allowed Penn State to take a 51-41 lead in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Senior guard Xavier Johnson had another tough game by getting into foul trouble and struggling to create open opportunities for his teammates. His production was no threat to Penn State, and Indiana was unable to get shooters like senior guards Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp going, as the pair went 4-17 from 3-point land.
Despite the lack of energy, Jackson-Davis helped the Hoosiers keep up with the dagger shooting of the Nittany Lions with 20 points. Jackson-Davis was the main spark for Indiana, until Penn State was able to collapse defensively on him to shut down Indiana’s offense.
If Indiana men’s basketball wants to be taken seriously come tournament time, it can’t lose to teams like Penn State. The talk of being one of the best teams in the conference is already fading as Indiana still has trouble winning basketball games.
The pressure is on for Indiana as it will continue to be tested and prove they belong with the best teams in the conference. More production has to be shown from everyone instead of Jackson-Davis always having to bail the team out.
Without Jackson-Davis’s production, it will be a scary sight for Indiana when it comes to playing against high-level contenders for the remainder of the season.