Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 1/21/12

On Sunday at 12:00 ET, the #13-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (15-4, 3-4) hope to halt a three-game losing streak when they return home to face on the Penn State Nittany Lions (10-10, 2-5) on the Big Ten Network.

As always, Jerod and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.

IU-Penn State Gameday Info
  • Date: Sunday, January 22nd
  • Time: 12:00 ET, 11:00 CT
  • TV: BTN
  • Announcers: Tom Hart and Dan Bonner
  • Point Spread: Indiana by 14.5
  • Over-Under: 141
  • KenPom Prediction: Indiana 80-61 with 94% chance of winning
  • Peegs: IU Gameday
  • Inside the Hall: What to Expect – Penn State
  • IU-Penn State live tweet coverage: @AssemblyCall
  • Assembly Call IU Postgame Show: http://assemblycall.com/live
IU-Penn State Preview

Despite Penn State’s record, the Nittany Lions should come into this one with some confidence after playing well in the first matchup between these two teams and upsetting Illinois at home this week.  Cammeron Woodyard came up big against the Illini with 17 points, while star guard Tim Frazier had 12 points and nine assists.

These teams met in Happy Valley just two weeks ago with the Hoosiers using a barrage of three-pointers to squeak out a six-point victory.  That was actually the last time the Hoosiers won, and some of the contributing factors to their recent swoon were on display even in a winning effort.  IU allowed Penn State to grab 42.4 percent of their own misses, forced just nine turnovers, and had 17 turnovers of their own.  Gaudy 16-of-24 shooting from beyond the arc ultimately save the day for the Hoosiers with Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth combining for 12 triples and 50 total points.

For Penn State in that game, Tim Frazier led the way with 21 points, although he needed 23 shots to get them.  Jermaine Marshall scored 20 points for the Nittany Lions, and four other players had at least eight points.

While other players have stepped up at times for Penn State, Tim Frazier is essentially the offense.  He comes in averaging 17.9 points, 6.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals, all of which lead the team.  He doesn’t shoot particularly well from deep, instead relying on his quickness to get into the lane to score, find open teammates, or draw fouls.  Frazier ranks first in the nation in assist rate and draws 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes, which he has converted into 146 free throws.  The Hoosiers have struggled to stop dribble penetration recently, so the defensive effort on Frazier will be critical.

The other player who has been hot lately is Woodyard, who has scored 39 points in his last two games.

Through Thursday’s games, Penn State has the lowest effective field goal percentage in conference play, ranking 10th in three-point shooting and 12th on two-pointers.  With so many missed shots though, they continue to excel on the offensive glass, ranking third in league games with a 35.1 offensive rebounding percentage.  The Hoosiers have had issues with cleaning the defensive glass in recent games, and it’s an area they need to be particularly concerned about against the Nittany Lions.

Defensively, Penn State ranks 12th in effective field goal percentage and free throw rate.  They have consistently allowed opponents to get clean looks from beyond the arc, which IU was able to exploit in the first matchup.  However, PSU also is second in league play in turnover rate, which should be a concern for IU given how careless they have been with the basketball of late.

For Indiana, one of the lone bright spots during the losing streak has been the play of Cody Zeller, who has averaged 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds during that stretch.  The Hoosiers need to continue to find ways to get him the ball and run the offense through him.

The Hoosiers definitely needs Christian Watford to get back on track.  Since hanging 25 on Michigan, Watford is just 10-of-38 (26.3%) from the field with 12 turnovers in four games.  Verdell Jones and Jordan Hulls have also struggled during the three-game losing streak, with Jones going 5-of-18 (27.8%) from the field and Hulls hitting just 4-of-17 (23.5%) from long range.  This is definitely a game where the Hoosiers will need their veterans to step up.

With a number of players struggling, keep an eye on Will Sheehey’s playing time.  He’s averaging just 16 minutes since returning from an ankle injury, but he has posted 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in those three contests.

Quite frankly, this is a must-win game for the Hoosiers who gave away the game against Nebraksa with a flurry of second half turnovers and poor defensive rebounding.  Not only is this a huge game for IU in terms of stopping their losing streak, but it’s also critical for a team that has allowed losing streaks to snowball over the last few seasons.  Right now, the team looks fragile mentally and is missing the aggressiveness that became their calling card earlier in the season.

The keys to the game will be containing Frazier off the dribble, protecting the defensive glass, and limiting turnovers.  If the Hoosiers can do those things, they should be able to get back on track and gain some confidence heading into a tough road game in Madison on Thursday.

*********

Listen to Andy Sunday on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.

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