Penn State bids to clamp down defensively vs. Indiana

Jan 31, 2024; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) dribbles against Penn State Nittany Lions forward Qudus Wahab (22) during the second half at Jersey Mike's Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State and Indiana are both looking to build on strong defensive efforts when the Big Ten foes convene Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind.

The Nittany Lions (10-11, 4-6 Big Ten) had not held an opponent below 50 points since their season-opening game before limiting Rutgers to 46 in Wednesday’s victory. Penn State won by 15 points despite shooting 38.5 percent from the field and making just 5 of 23 attempts from 3-point range with 16 turnovers.

How is that possible? When you hold your opponent to 34 percent shooting overall and 1 of 17 from beyond the arc with 20 turnovers.

“For us to get where we want to take the program, where I want to put our mark on the program and Penn State basketball moving forward is, you got to go on the road in the Big Ten and beat people on their court,” Penn State coach Mike Rhoades said. “This was a first step for us today. And to do it here, hopefully, gives our guys confidence to do it in other places.”

Even more impressive is that the Nittany Lions notched the victory without leading scorer Kanye Clary (undisclosed injury). Ace Baldwin Jr. (15 points) and D’Marco Dunn (14) picked up the offensive slack in his place.

Meanwhile, the Hoosiers (13-8, 5-5) held Iowa to 35.4 percent shooting and 6 of 22 from 3-point range in a 74-68 victory over the Hawkeyes on Tuesday. It was a much-needed win for Indiana, which had lost three straight games while allowing 82.7 points during that stretch.

“It’s going to be our defense that carries us the rest of the way — and rebounding the ball,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “And I thought tonight it was a beautiful carry-over from the Illinois game, because we were pretty good defensively.”

Kel’el Ware registered 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Anthony Leal chipped in a career-high 13 points in the win.

The Nittany Lions captured both matchups between the teams last season, including a four-point win in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

–Field Level Media

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