University Park, PA – February was a tough month on the schedule for the Indiana Hoosiers. But, one of the easiest games was supposed to be against the lowly Penn State Nittany Lions. The Hoosiers have staved off every test so far in Big 10 play but tonight wasn’t supposed to be one of them.
Unfortunately, they came out flat and played by far not only their worst game of the season, but one of their worst games in years as they lost to a horrible Penn State team 68-63 in Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night.
The Hoosiers were supposed to be set up for a battle for Big 10 supremacy against Iowa next Thursday night, instead they can only hope to beat them and earn a tie for first place as they dropped their second game of the conference season and first loss at Penn State since 2009.
Call it like it is, a trap game, a bad game, whatever, Indiana was flat out embarrassed to one of the worst teams in the conference.
Penn State is bad, real bad, historically bad. They only had two conference wins entering tonight and were losers of six of their last seven games.
That’s who this program is – a loser.
Penn State basketball is a losing program. It’s their culture. It’s who they are.
But, Indiana lost to them so what’s it say about them?
Penn State held Indiana to their worst shooting performance of the season as they shot just 36.2-percent against a very bad Nittany Lion team. They were just 33-percent from behind the arc and committed 15 turnovers, most of those unforced.
Penn State on the other hand only shot 41-percent themselves and 33-percent from behind the arc, but they only committed seven turnovers for the game.
They wanted it worse than Indiana did.
An under .500 team wanting a win worse than a team in the running for the conference title in February, one that was in a tie for the Big 10 lead entering tonight.
For some reason, the games that have brought out the worst of Indiana this year have been against some of the the worst teams in the nation. In non conference play, the Hoosiers lost to UNLV and Wake Forest in the Maui Invitational.
One of those teams is well under .500 and the other has already fired their coach.
As far as Big 10 play goes, in the Big 10 opener at Rutgers, Indiana barely escaped by winning 79-72. Then, in the two games against Minnesota already, IU struggled in those as well as they only won by just seven at the Golden Gophers back in January, then barely beat them in the return game at Assembly Hall last Saturday afternoon winning by just a six point margin.
Tonight, it finally got them, as they dropped their second game in the last three meetings to a horrid Penn State team.
But, against the better teams in the conference, Indiana has won handily as they beat Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern by 25, 34 and 32 respectively at home as well dominating double digit victories on the road at Nebraska and Michigan.
So, why do they play at the level of their bad opponents?
That’s an answer no one knows.
Is it looking ahead?
Is it immaturity?
There’s high school teams out there that would demolish this Penn State team but Indiana for some reason finds ways to play bad against them.
Playing like hot garbage against a garbage team especially when an Indiana team has national title aspirations should never happen.
Take this for example, Brandon Taylor scored 24 points for Penn State.
I don’t think anyone has ever heard of him. Outside of his parents, has anyone heard of Brandon Taylor at Penn State?
Well he scored 24 points on 10-for-20 shooting on Indiana.
Nick Zeisloft was the only Hoosier than came out ready to play tonight as he led the team in scoring with 14 points. He had four huge three’s that kept Indiana in the game, but had no help.
Everytime Indiana would hit a shot to tie it or take a little lead, they’d get a stop on defense but falter on the ensuing offensive possession. They never hit that shot to spark a run against a stadium that was lucky to be 30-percent full and half of them were Indiana fans.
It was also a bad time for Yogi Ferrell to have his worst game of the season as he scored only 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Thomas Bryant was the only other Hoosier in double figures as he chipped in 10 points but he had a rough go of it on defense as he had three early fouls.
As far as that, that was pretty much it as there’s still an SOS out for Troy Williams and Colin Hartman who had 11 combined points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field.
Take this for example, Indiana was in the bonus for the last 12:42 of the game.
They shot just six free throws during that time frame.
They made five of them but to only get to the line six times over the last 12 minutes especially when they couldn’t throw a rock into the ocean while physically standing in the water is bad execution.
Penn State couldn’t stay in front of the ball but instead, Indiana settled for jump shots despite being in the bonus. That’s dumb basketball. That’s a dumb team. That’s uncalled for.
Plus, Penn State only had one timeout left for the final half of the game.
A two-win conference team had one timeout and put their opponent in the bonus for the second half of the game and they still won.
That’s all you can say about this game, embarrassing.
Penn State was desperately trying to give this game away. They have no talent, zero, none on the coaching staff, none on the court, none on the bench and were so bad they fouled over seven times in the first seven minutes of the half. They were so bad they used all but one of their timeouts near the halfway marker of the second half and Indiana was so bad they couldn’t exploit it.
Luckily, and unluckily, for Indiana, most of their games against the lowly teams of Big 10 play this year are now done, as five of their last seven games of the regular season are against teams in the top five of the standings.
Who knows what that means for Indiana at this point. They can still win the Big 10 title as they have the talent and depth to do so, but how bad to they want it?
This is the type of game that causes the wheels to fall off of the bus for Indiana as they SHOULD win four of their next five, but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see them lose to Iowa, at Michigan State, Purdue and at Illinois and win just one of their next five.
It’s only up to them. They should win all those games but the road one at Michigan State, but are the wheels still on the bus?
We have five days until we know.
It all begins on Thursday night as The Hoosiers have a huge contest for first place in the Big 10 on the line at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes (9 pm ET/ESPN/IU Radio Network).
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow @Ericsportsguru and @IndySportsRep on Twitter