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Penn State vs. No. 22 Indiana Preview: Lions Searching for Spark

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After a hapless showing against Iowa on Wednesday, Penn State will look to regroup and try to spring the home upset.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Indiana Hoosiers (19-4, 9-1)
When: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: BTN
KenPom Rank: 20
Vegas Line: IU -8
Enemy Blog: Crimson Quarry

Nobody expected Penn State to give No. 5 Iowa a run for their money in Iowa City last Wednesday, but that didn't make the 73-49 drubbing any less agonizing for Nittany Lion fans. An uninspiring performance, complete with 19 bricks from three-point land, has PSU searching for answers on offense.

Saturday's opponent won't allow them much time to find that answer before blowing the doors off the BJC. Indiana enters the game fresh off of a dominant outing in Ann Arbor. The Hoosiers used a 28-0 run that spanned halftime and looked every bit of the Big Ten title contenders that their record says they are. The question with IU's resume thus far has been their schedule - they've played just one of the conference's top-six teams in their opening ten games (Michigan) - but they'll have the opportunity to validate their claims this coming week, when they host Iowa and travel to Michigan State. So there is just a hint of look-ahead potential here.

Oh, and Josh Reaves back:

Cause tomorrow is game day #WeAre ⚪️

A photo posted by JR23 (@jareaves23) on

Scouting The Opposition

After returning from Maui with two losses and allowing Duke to score 1.52 points per possession in December, Tom Crean's seat must have been feeling pretty hot. At least it was on Twitter - which, yanno - but there was merit in the belief that Crean couldn't get this team to play well enough on defense to save his job. Now, after that 10-1 conference start, Indiana looks like they've finally found themselves on the defensive end. The numbers back that up, too - the Hoosiers are the B1G's top team in defensive efficiency on KenPom, which does take competition into account.

All the more impressive for Indiana is that they're doing this without James Blackmon Jr. The sophomore was averaging 15.8 ppg before suffering a season-ending knee injury in practice before the start of conference play, but if anything his absence has reinvigorated a group led by all-everything point guard Yogi Ferrell and freshman star Thomas Bryant, who leads the nation in two-point field goal percentage (74.5%).

What To Watch For

This game also offers one hell of a dichotomy in offensive production. Penn State enters the contest shooting 28.8% from three-point range after that 1-20 effort at Iowa. That is 342nd nationally. That is bad. Indiana, behind four high-volume sharpshooters hovering around 40% or better, is fourth in the nation in three-point shooting at 42.7%. That is good. Needless to say, this won't be much of a contest if Penn State can't find their stroke.

Prediction

Reaves' return (likely in limited minutes) won't help much in the outside shooting department, as he's just a 9% three-point shooter on the season, but at this point PSU needs all the help it can get in all facets of the game. Indiana is an offensive juggernaut right now and it will take some inspired play to keep up with them. It is an 8:00 game though, and it's not hard to see Penn State keeping pace for 30 minutes. But all this Hoosiers team needs is 10 minutes to make its mark. Indiana 81, Penn State 69. Memorable Tom Crean screencaps: 2.