Indiana men’s basketball entered its matchup against Penn State desperate for a win. After two unpalatable losses last week, and a free-fall out of the rankings, Wednesday’s game provided a challenge but a chance to get things right.
Nothing about the Hoosiers’ on-floor performance would tell you that, though.
Indiana looked helpless and uninterested on defense as Penn State opened the floodgates from beyond the arc, shooting 18-for-31 from 3-point range and beating Indiana 85-66.
“Our guys are a little down, and they should be,” head coach Mike Woodson said after the game. “They got smacked in the face tonight. We’re not competing at all, and that’s on me.”
Penn State entered Wednesday night’s game as one of the premiere 3-point shooting teams in the Big Ten, standing just above Indiana and second in the conference with 38.3% shooting from deep. The Hoosiers were shooting 38.2% from beyond the arc leading into the contest, but the difference — both season-wise and on Wednesday — was volume.
The Nittany Lions attempted 162 more 3-pointers on the season than the Hoosiers and continued the onslaught from deep. Indiana, who was 4-for-14 from deep in the game, never had a chance to keep up.
Led by senior forward Seth Lundy and senior guard Andrew Funk, who each were 7-for-12 from 3-point range, Penn State led for 35 minutes, including the entire second half.
“We were awful at guarding,” Woodson said. “Half of the 3s, we’re right there with a hand and hoping that they miss instead of just getting into the ball and making them put it down.”
Indiana started stronger defensively, relying on junior guard Jordan Geronimo’s renewed energy after a scoreless game against Northwestern. Geronimo covered the floor, blocking shots and grabbing four rebounds in his first 10 minutes, but his productivity didn’t translate in the remaining 30 minutes, finishing with 6 points and six rebounds.
Indiana remained flummoxed by Penn State’s perimeter offense the rest of the night. Halfway through the second half, Geronimo lost track of freshman guard Kanye Clary on defense, and was looking around with his back to his man as Clary caught a pass and drained a 3-pointer.
Geronimo was far from the only defender to lose his man and allow a 3-pointer. All night, the Nittany Lions had an abundance of time from beyond the arc, allowing Wednesday to turn into shooting practice.
“If there was one rotation, we didn’t make the next rotation,” Woodson said. “We looked lost, again, that’s on me. We practiced it but we’ve got to bring it to the ballgame.”
Lundy found himself open time and time again as Indiana defenders were pulled over the court to help on double-teams. Lundy made consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half that firmly placed the Nittany Lions in control, and he was 4-for-7 from beyond the arc by the break.
Meanwhile, Indiana’s offense was absent. A late 3-pointer from sophomore guard Tamar Bates was the only one of the first half for the Hoosiers, and senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and sophomore guard Jalen Hood-Schifino couldn’t maintain the scoring pace that kept Indiana in close losses against Iowa and Northwestern.
While Jackson-Davis had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Hood-Schifino and Bates each added 11, the Hoosiers couldn’t keep pace with the hot shooting hand of the Nittany Lions.
“Tonight, we had no shot with all the 3s we gave up,” Woodson said. “We never touched anybody physically.”
Indiana is now 1-4 in the Big Ten amid a three-game losing streak and is plummeting down the standings. It will look to right the ship against No. 18 Wisconsin and will tip off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.