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(Preview/Open Thread) Penn State Hosts Indiana: Will Long Layoff Affect Nittany Lions?

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Will we be glad to watch this game?

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State hosts the Hoosiers in the first game of 2022.

Scouting The Opposition

Indiana is back to being good, led by former NBA head coach Mike Woodson. The Hoosiers’ two losses have come on the road by a combined seven points, one being a two-point defeat to Syracuse in double overtime. Redshirt sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis leads Indiana in both points and rebounds, while 6’8’’ Race Thompson joins Jackson-Davis down low to average nearly 11 points and eight rebounds per game. Redshirt junior guard Xavier Johnson is the third Hoosier averaging double figures, and 6’5’’ guard Parker Stewart has hit almost 50% of his three-pointers.

What To Watch For

Will John Harrar be able to contain Jackson-Davis down low? The forward had 21 points and six rebounds in the Hoosiers’ 87-85 win in extra time over the Nittany Lions in 2020, and this season leads the team with 19 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. Harrar has certainly held his own in the past against imposing figures in the paint, but the lack of depth behind him will always be a concern. If Harrar focuses entirely on Jackson-Davis, that will lead to open looks for Thompson.

Finally, the obvious: How will Penn State look after three weeks off? Sufficient rest and recovery is one thing, but missing games against VCU, Quinnipiac, and Delaware State may affect the Nittany Lions’ rhythm early on. That does not bode well for a team that is often dependent on streaky three-point shooting. Penn State will need all four of their double-figure scorers, Sam Sessoms, Seth Lundy, Jalen Pickett, and Harrar (who also averages 10 rebounds per contest) to have big games in order to keep pace with the visitors.

Prediction

The combination of three weeks of rust and the physicality of Jackson-Davis and Thompson down low is too much for the home team.

Indiana 84, Penn State 68