Back on Jan. 12, in the first half of the Indiana-Minnesota game, the Hoosiers reminded us how good they can be when they're on, putting forth a sparkling 20 minutes of basketball and outscoring the Gophers by 23.
In the five halves since, that up-tempo, raining-jumpers-from-everywhere Indiana squad (and Will Sheehey) has disappeared.
I'd even go as far as to say Indiana is in a little funk. (Still, it says something that Indiana has gone 2-1 during this lackluster stretch, with a win over a then-top 10 team and a road victory.)
A home game against Penn State may be just what the doctored ordered to get the Hoosiers back on track.
Seventh-ranked Indiana (16-2, 4-1) welcomes the Nittany Lions (8-10, 0-6) into Assembly Hall tonight for a 7 p.m. matchup. The game, which comes just 16 days after the two teams met up in Pennsylvania, will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
Indiana traveled to University Park on Jan. 7 and took care of Penn State, 74-51. In that one, the Hoosiers -- who employed a full-court press for large portions of the game -- came out with pristine focus and intensity and took it to the Nittany Lions right out of the gate, racing out to a 44-27 halftime advantage.
It was an off-night for Yogi Ferrell (0 for 5), but Indiana's other four starters combined to shoot 18 for 27, and the Hoosiers nailed 8 of 16 from beyond the arc. Christian Watford led four Hoosiers in double figures with 16 points, also snaring a team-best eight rebounds. Cody Zeller (15 points), Jordan Hulls (14) and Victor Oladipo (10) joined Watford as Indiana's top scorers.
Since losing to Indiana, the Nittany Lions have fallen to Northwestern (70-54), Purdue (60-42), Michigan State (81-72) and Nebraska (68-64). Penn State, the lone winless team int he Big Ten, has struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop during league play, scoring just 55.7 points per game.
D.J. Newbill and Marshall average 15.3 and 15.2 points, respectively, for the Nittany Lions. Travis scored 7.0 points and hauls in a team-leading 7.2 rebounds.
Indiana comes into the game fresh off one of those "an ugly road win is still a road win" victories at Northwestern, edging the Wildcats, 67-59. The Hoosiers -- who committed just six turnovers (as did Northwestern) and held a 33-18 rebounding cushion -- were in front 31-17 at the half and stayed in control most of the way before fending off a late Northwestern charge.
Zeller spearheaded the Indiana effort, doubling up with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Hulls netted 15 points and Watford finished with 14. Oladipo stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, six rebounds and five assists.
There was even a Sheehey sighting. A Derek Elston one, too. Sheehey, after a pair of scoreless games, dropped in six points and grabbed four boards in 19 minutes. In his first game back since from injury, Elston played about three seconds.
Tonight's game is the final contest before Indiana's Big Ten schedule heats up. The Hoosiers follow it up with this five-game stretch: vs. Michigan State, at Purdue, vs. Michigan, at Illinois and at Ohio State.