Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Penn State

  • 02/24/2024 3:32 pm in

Indiana fell to Penn State for the second time this season, falling 83-74 on Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park. The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 14-13 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Nittany Lions:

Penn State did what it wanted offensively

Yes, Indiana was competitive on Saturday afternoon for most of the contest. That was progress from Wednesday’s loss against Nebraska when the Hoosiers trailed by as many as 22 points in an embarrassing home defeat.

But Penn State did what it wanted when it wanted offensively against the Hoosiers.

Indiana’s defense, once a strength under Mike Woodson in previous seasons, has been a major deficiency this season. The Hoosiers were carved up for 83 points by Penn State, which scored 1.19 points per possession.

Penn State hit nine 3-pointers on 21 attempts, got to the line 30 times and Ace Baldwin Jr. had 23 points and nine assists in 40 minutes. The Hoosiers were whistled for 23 fouls as IU struggled to keep the Nittany Lions out of the lane.

Through 16 league games, Indiana is surrendering 1.097 points per possession, which ranks ninth in the conference.

Indiana’s poor free throw shooting continues

Free throw shooting has been an issue all season for Indiana. It was an issue again on Saturday.

The Hoosiers shot 14-for-25 from the line, good for just 56 percent.

Malik Reneau, who shot 9-for-12, had a solid day, but Mackenzie Mgbako was 0-for-3 and Trey Galloway was 3-for-7.

The season free throw shooting numbers for IU are ugly. Through 27 games, Indiana ranks 342nd out of 362 Division I teams in free throw shooting percentage at 65.3.

In conference games, Indiana is even worse. The Hoosiers are 62.5 percent from the line in Big Ten games, the worst in the league.

“Again, it came down to making free throws at critical times,” Mike Woodson told Don Fischer postgame. “We just didn’t make ’em.”

The Hoosiers again can’t connect from 3-point range

In addition to the poor free throw shooting, Indiana struggled with its perimeter shooting at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Hoosiers shot a dismal 2-for-15 from long distance. And their first make came with 1:35 to play from Mgbako.

“When we got opportunities to step up and shoot 3s, we gotta knock ’em down,” Woodson told Fischer on the postgame radio show.

While the numbers aren’t as poor as the free throw shooting, IU’s perimeter shooting numbers are troubling.

The Hoosiers are shooting just 31.5 percent from distance, ranking 289th nationally. In Big Ten games, Indiana is connecting at just a 31.3 percent clip, good for just 12th in the league.

Malik Reneau was a bright spot

Indiana outscored Penn State by 22 points in the paint and Reneau was a significant reason why.

Reneau, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Miami, Florida, was dominant in the paint and at the rim against the Nittany Lions.

The lefty, who has taken his game to another level in his second season in Bloomington, finished with a game-high 27 points in 35 minutes. He was 9-for-13 from the field and 9-for-12 from the free throw line.

But Reneau can’t do it all alone. Indiana’s guards again struggled as Gabe Cupps (two points), Trey Galloway (11 points), Anthony Leal (two points) and CJ Gunn (five points) combined for just 20 points in 98 minutes.

“We sat down and talked with him and watched a lot of film,” Woodson said of Reneau. “So he was really solid tonight. But we gotta get other guys around him playing if we’re going to finish this season on a high note.”

Losing streak reaches four games and it doesn’t get easier from here

Indiana’s losing streak is now four games – the longest of the season – and the Hoosiers have fallen into the basement of the Big Ten standings.

If the Big Ten tournament were to begin today, Indiana would likely be playing on Wednesday evening.

As Wisconsin comes to Bloomington on Tuesday, things don’t get easier, either. IU’s other remaining home game is against Michigan State and the Hoosiers still have to play Minnesota and Maryland on the road. Both of those programs will be looking to avenge losses from earlier in the season.

Saturday’s loss also dropped Indiana a few more spots in KenPom.

As of this writing, the Hoosiers are No. 106 in Pomeroy’s rankings, just four spots ahead of Michigan. The Wolverines are 8-19 overall and 3-13 in Big Ten play.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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