The Journal Gazette
 
 
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 10:50 pm

Indiana beats Penn State, 74-57, avenging earlier loss

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – Race Thompson scored a season-high 18 points, Trayce Jackson-Davis added 15 and Indiana led by as many as 31 points on the way to a 74-57 victory over Penn State at Assembly Hall tonight.

The Hoosiers improved to 15-5 and 6-4 in the Big Ten, but suffered what might be a significant loss when point guard Rob Phinisee had to be helped from the court with an ankle injury late in the first half. He did not return to the game.

3 Takeaways

  • Seeing the ceiling: Many basketball teams go an entire season without ever playing up to their full potential. It takes a rare confluence of events for a team to play to as well as it possibly can, even for a short time. Tonight, Indiana did that for the entire first half. In the game's first 20 minutes, Indiana shot 57% and held the Nittany Lions to 17%. The Hoosiers had nine assists; Penn State had five field goals. The visitors were 1 of 10 from 3-point range; the hosts were 6 of 8 and made their first six in a row. Indiana held a 23-15 edge on the glass and an 11-4 advantage in points off turnovers. I could go on and on with lopsided stats. It was efficient offensively, absolutely swarming on defense and the crowd hardly sat down the entire half. When Jackson-Davis threw down a put-back dunk with 1:35 to go before the break, the Hoosiers led 46-15 and they took a 29-point advantage into halftime. It was the best half of basketball Indiana has played against a Big Ten opponent since I have been covering the team and having it come after a game in which the Hoosiers came in for criticism for not having the requisite fire, it shows the team has leaders capable of getting the team ready to play when it needs to.
  • Race Thompson ... outside shooter?: The first sign Indiana was in for a huge night came less than a minute into the game. With 19:03 left in the first half, Thompson took a pass on the right wing and realized Penn State was playing well off him, essentially daring him to shoot. The fifth-year senior did so and drained the 3, putting Indiana up 5-0 and getting the Hoosiers off and running. It was Thompson's fifth 3 of the season in 30 attempts, but two of those made long balls have come in the last two games. Later in the first half, Thompson again stepped into a long jumper, this one from just inside the arc, and knocked it down and then added another three in the second half, this time from the corner, giving him as many 3s in the last two games as he had in the first 18. Coach Mike Woodson has repeatedly said he has been encouraging Thompson to shoot and that getting the power forward to be an outside shooting threat has been one of his main objectives since taking over as coach. For a while, that objective seemed doomed to failure, but it's possible Thompson has turned a corner somewhat in the last few games. If so, he opens a whole new dimension for Indiana's offense.
  • Indiana has a point guard: Xavier Johnson spent much of the early part of the season alternating between outstanding all-around performances and games in which he tried to do way too much. The best example of the latter came when he bricked a flurry of 3s against Notre Dame and heard some pretty loud boos from the Indiana faithful, drawing some condemnation of the fans' actions from Woodson. More recently, however, Johnson's up-and-down season has turned almost entirely up. He has morphed into the type of point guard Woodson desperately wants running his offense, a crafty ball-handler, creative passer and good-enough shooter who is constantly looking to push the pace. Johnson had a third straight outstanding game today, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, three rebounds and six assists, and helping get the Hoosiers off to a great start with a pair of 3s in quick succession in the early going. Over the last three games, he has 51 points, 14 assists and, crucially, only five turnovers. Indiana might need Johnson to play more minutes going forward if Phinisee is out for any length of time, so performances like tonight's are extremely encouraging.

Player of the Game: Trayce Jackson-Davis

Jackson-Davis got the Hoosiers off to a promising start when he scored in the post with his right hand on the game's opening possession and came up with a huge weak-side block the first time Penn State had the ball. He finished 5 of 8 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists and added four blocks and a steal on defense. He played very well in pick-and-roll defense and bullied the Nittany Lions inside for much of the night.

Tip-Ins

These teams met Jan. 2 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania and the Nittany Lions won 61-58 after hitting 11 of 22 3s and out-rebounding the Hoosiers 37-28. Tonight, Penn State won the rebounding battle 36-30 (including 21-7 in the second half), but the Nittany Lions went 9 of 26 from beyond the arc. ... Indiana is 13-1 at Assembly Hall this season and 14-1 overall when coach Mike Woodson wears a suit on the sidelines. The Hoosiers are also 5-0 following a loss this year. ... Indiana came into the game leading the Big Ten and No. 12 in the country in opponent field goal percentage at 37.9%. The Nittany Lions shot 33% tonight. Indiana shot 51%. The Hoosiers were 10 of 13 from 3-point range. ... Indiana's Tamar Bates had two first-half 3s, his first baskets from beyond the arc since Dec. 12. He had as many points (six) as he had in his previous eight games combined. ... The Hoosiers had a 16-9 advantage in points off turnovers. ... Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 14 points.

What's Next?

Indiana will be back in action Saturday when it travels to the Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland, to take on the Terrapins (11-9, 3-6 Big Ten). The game will tip off at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox. Maryland, playing under interim coach Danny Manning after Mark Turgeon resigned in December, has won two straight, beating Illinois on Friday (the Illini were without All-American center Kofi Cockburn) and Rutgers on the road Tuesday.

dsinn@jg.net


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