Hoosiers 88, Penn State 82: With Letdowns like this, who needs losses?

First of all, apologies for the late recap. I have a bevy of excuses that none of you are interested in hearing.

The game at Penn State was most definitely a trap game. Especially after what Penn State did to Purdue a mere three days prior. Penn State was coming in with all the confidence that screams upset while Indiana was coming off three straight high emotion games against ranked opponents. A let down would not have been surprising. Luckily Indiana was able to pull out the victory to go along with a let down.

It was expected that the Hoosiers might come out a little flat to begin the game, but no one expected it to extend past halftime. It did exactly that however. All the starters had to play significant minutes in a game that should have been over from the whistle. Why do you ask? Defense and rebounding that is why. The Hoosiers never really showed that high pressure grit that they have throughout most of the season. The guards let their men drive right by them, the bigs failed to rotate over to help on several occasions and it felt like everyone forgot to block out.

Ryan Corazza of Inside The Hall pointed out that Indiana did indeed hold PennState significantly below their offensive rebounding average but it sure as heck didn’t feel like it. PennState outrebounded the Hoosiers by only one, but beat them on the offensive glass 9-4. Some of that was bad bounces and some of that was just a failure to be strong with the ball when securing the rebound. I lost count how many times a Hoosier man was in position for the rebound only to have it stripped away by the Lions because he did secure it with two hands. It was tough to watch, but that wasn’t the only failure.

Tim Frazier abused the perimeter guards non-stop in this game. He was able to slash seemingly at will and cause so much disruption in the lane that PennState wound up with a layup or free throws. Part of that reason for being picked apart is Tim Frazier being as Tom Crean said it, "the most underrated player in the country." BUT if Vic especially wants to make the leap from good defender to elite, he has to be able to slow that caliber of guard down. Luckily for Oladipo another really good defender in Lewis Jackson for Purdue was absolutely owned for 40 minutes in the previous game. It shouldn’t give Vic’s rep too much of a hit to get beat by the B1G’s best guard.

As for the positives in the game, the glaring one that needs to be covered in the three point shooting, it was absolutely insane. Dick Vitale was right when he said Hulls shooting a three is as automatic as a layup. In fact, after Hulls got a layup shoved back down his throat in this game, I’d venture to say his three point shot is more of a gimme than his layups. In the first half Hulls was 5-5 (not counting the last second heave that he missed) from downtown and it wasn’t of just the catch and shoot variety. Of his 5 first half threes, two were created off his own dribble, one was catch and shoot, one was in transition and the fifth was off a ball screen. He can hit anywhere, anytime and in any manner.

As hot as Hulls was in the first, Roth was in the second. He in turn hit 5-6 from downtown in his rotation into the lineup and was the big reason that Verdell Jones only played 18 minutes. Crean played the hot hands and it finished with a team record in percentage and one shy of the quantity record, 16-24 from three point land. Anyone that tells you Indiana was lucky to hit 9-15 to beat Kentucky has no idea what they’re talking about.

As a whole it was an ugly game but the results worked out. Anytime a team shoots as well as Indiana did it should be a blowout, but if a six point win is the results of a letdown game I’ll take it. Cody Zeller and Christian Watford were both able to take some the burden off their shoulders and only had to contribute ten points apiece, while Hulls and Roth were pouring in 28 and 22 respectively. Now it is on to the next one where the Hoosiers will try and extend their conference record to 4-1 at home against Minnesota on the 12th.

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