This is what we want to see from Indiana in Big Ten games: domination on both ends of the court.
IU defeated Penn State for a second time this season with its 72-49 victory Wednesday night.
While we finally saw some positives after IU had been in a bit of a funk, this game said more out the Nittany Lions than it did about IU. Simply put, Penn State is the worst team in the conference. This is a game that IU should win easily.
There are a few negatives that stand out from this game however.
- IU's free throw shooting was abysmal. Indiana was 21-of-37 over the course of the game. Its simply unacceptable for a team that has championship aspirations to shoot this poorly from the charity stripe. There is no doubt that they were running free throw drills the very next day, and the team generally connects on 73 percent of their free throws. It shouldn't be a big issue going forward, but they will need to cash in here when they face Michigan State Sunday.
- Indiana turned the ball over far too much. 18 times against an inferior opponent is far too high. IU has to do a better job of taking care of the ball in the future. The players didn't seem all that focused for the game and sort of drifted through it. Tom Crean has to find a better way to motivate his team even when they play a weaker opponent.
- Penn State held a block party. The Nittany Lions blocked seven shot attempts by IU. Most of them were the result of indecisiveness by the ball handler/shooter or due to an IU player dribbling into trouble. The Hoosiers need to work on shot selection in general and do a better job of not getting so far underneath the basket.
- Cody Zeller had an off game, so what? Zeller only logged 21 minutes (he usually plays over 28 minutes) and that was partly due to what appeared to be a leg injury late in the game and with a 20 point lead, so he sat out for awhile. Zeller was 0-for-4 from the floor and it was mostly his own fault. Rather than be authoritative and muscle his way to a higher percentage shot (you know, like a center should do), he settled for hook shots and fade away jumpers. Crean needs to tell him to attack the rim more with his vast repertoire of finely polished post moves.
We keep railing on Zeller because he simply isn't playing the way he should. He has a tendency to get bullied in the post and plays more like a small forward than a center. He has the physical tools and athleticism to back a man down and then dunk on him, but we never see that from Zeller. He is always a factor on the glass but is inconsistent on offense and should be recording more blocks simply based on his size.
There were a number of positives to take away from this game too.
- The bench finally showed up. Will Sheehey appears to be out of his shooting slump and was very active in the game. He still needs to be more productive on defense, especially when it comes to offering help. Maurice Creek also got a decent number of minutes but it's clear that his shot isn't quite there and it will take time for him to integrate back into the offense.
- The "Oladipo and Ferrell" show is going to be amazing. Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell racked up a combined 34 points. Oladipo came out of a mini-slump and hit some big shots and Ferrell finally found the shot that he had apparently forgot to bring with him from high school. Ferrell also played some impressive defense, a trait that IU really needs him to have from game to game.
- The defense was outstanding. Any time you hold a team to under 50 points, its a good night. IU finished the game with eight steals and allowed just five assists from Penn State. The Hoosiers played the passing lanes incredibly well and forced the Nittany Lions to create their own shots rather than effectively run set plays.
This was just the sort of game that IU needed heading into Sunday's showdown with No. 13 Michigan State.
We'll have more on that game up tomorrow.
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