I’m not sure if I would describe this game as messy, ugly or sloppy (it’s actually all three), but Indiana improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play and 7-2 on the season with a 64-62 nailbiter over Penn State. Your Hoosiers are also tied for first place in the Big Ten. We’ll take that every day of the week.
The Hoosiers started slow, but found their rhythm in the latter part of the first half. They maintained that groove through the early goings of the second half, and were able to hold off a late Penn State rally to pick up a second straight W.
Here are three takeaways from tonight.
Winning ugly is still winning
Maybe this team is just destined to grind out wins in an ugly manner. Indiana turned the ball over 16 times, gave up 15 offensive rebounds, and yet still somehow found a way to win. The second half was particularly ugly with 11 of those 16 turnovers coming in the second frame. Indiana missed layups. Indiana missed crucial free throws. Indiana struggled against pressure. But you know what? Indiana still won the damn game. If we’re being honest, the Hoosiers probably shouldn’t have won! But in a game in which Penn State was a putrid 11-26 from the free throw line, you’ll take the win and get the hell out. No need to look at the box score. The only thing that matters is another tally in the win column.
The freshmen guards came to play
It was a tale of two halves for Indiana’s freshmen guards. Romeo Langford came out of the gate with one thing on his mind: buckets. With a flurry of stepbacks and jumpers, Romeo poured in 15 points in the first half. He would only manage two points in the second half, but his backcourt mate stepped up.
Rob Phinisee did not look like a freshman in the second half. When the offense stagnated, it was Phinisee who stepped up and found a way to score when the Hoosiers needed it most. He had 10 of his 12 points in the second half, and had just one turnover in the game. For a freshman point guard making his first Big Ten road start, that’s a very encouraging sign. He’s going to be a joy to watch for years to come.
This team can be a chore to watch at times on the offensive end. But if there’s anything that we can ascertain from the first nine games of the season, it’s that Indiana is going to compete on the defensive side of the ball every single night. The Hoosiers came into the game ranked No. 30 overall in KenPom adjusted D, and will surely move up after holding Penn State to just 0.89 points per possession. There are still moments that can be frustrating. The offensive rebounds are an issue. There were a few times tonight where guys got caught sleeping or made a lazy closeout. There’s really only one big guy that can guard a ball screen. But it’s working because this team is tough. And I think that’s something Indiana fans have been clamoring for.
BONUS: BTN still sucks
Watching games on the Big Ten Network is - to put it lightly - miserable. Every aspect of the broadcast is subpar. The announcers don’t provide any substance to the broadcast. Exhibit A:
i don’t have the audio on but i’ll venture to guess that shon morris called that missed goaltending call “50/50"— crimson quarry! (@crimsonquarry) December 5, 2018
Also, was the production crew just oblivious to the guy behind the broadcast crew hollering at the top of his lungs for THE ENTIRE DAMN GAME.
For all the money that the Big Ten has made through the BTN, it’s disappointing that the money isn’t being invested in improving the quality of the broadcast. Thanks Jim Delany!