Penn State men’s basketball is key to defeating Indiana | Penn State sports news

After back-to-back losses to Michigan and Purdue, Penn State needs a big win to regain momentum in hopes of making the NCAA tournament for the first time in over a decade.

While a win over former No. 17 Illinois looked promising for the Nittany Lions’ tournament hopes in December, that victory looks less impressive now that the Fighting Illinois have been eliminated from the AP Top 25.

As such, Wednesday’s home game between Penn State and Indiana is the perfect opportunity to build your resume against a tough Big Ten opponent.

Here’s a look at the Nittany Lions’ keys to defeating the Hoosiers.

Recover heat from 3-point land

There’s one primary reason Penn State got away with an 11-5 start with at least a reasonably realistic chance of winning the tournament: shooting the basketball.

Three-point shots are not only something the Nittany Lions have attempted frequently, but they’ve usually done them, at least prior to their last two games.

Against Michigan and Purdue, top scorer Jalen Pickett almost had too much offensive work due to the mixed shots of otherwise consistent scorers like Andrew Funk, Camren Wynter and Myles Dread.

Pickett can drop 26 points in any game — as he has in each of the last three — and Penn State still faces a blowout loss if those around him continue to score in the single digits and not 30% from deep shoot.

It’s pretty clear that, oddly enough, Pickett is the Nittany Lions’ only real threat to scoring in the paint, making it all the more important for Funk, Wynter and Dread to return to 3-point dominance against a well-rounded Indiana team has variety in its scoring options.

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Stop Trayce Jackson-Davis in the paint

If Indiana saw a film of Penn State’s recent loss to Purdue, coach Mike Woodson likely pointed out a major flaw plaguing the Nittany Lions — lack of color presence.

It’s been an issue all season, but with no real size, strength or bottom-line ability, 7-foot-4-Boilermaker center Zach Edey stomped all over Penn State for 30 points and 13 rebounds.

With another high-profile big man in store in the Hoosiers’ Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Nittany Lions may want to take a fresh approach to breakpoints in the suit.

While Jackson-Davis’ 6ft 9 frame doesn’t compare to Edey’s, he’s known for making the most of his scoring chances when facing smaller defenders.

Contrasting the approach against Purdue – who often had Dread or freshman forward Kebba Njie on Edey – Micah Shrewsberry might want to consider either sticking defensive maestro Seth Lundy on Jackson-Davis or opting for a doubles team.

Slow down Jalen Hood-Schifino from below

If Shrewsberry does decide to double-team on Jackson-Davis, it’s important his defensive game plan includes a close eye on freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, who has paused his career with high goals in each of his last four games.

After a 33-point performance in Indiana’s loss to Northwestern on Sunday, Hood-Schifino was on a tear from long range, shooting a 10-on-15 combined from 3-point land in the Hoosiers’ last two games.

If Penn State wants to beat Indiana, which it certainly can with the Hoosiers currently on a two-game losing streak, it needs to either match or halve Hood-Schifino’s 3-point shooting.

Stopping both Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino from scoring multiple goals will of course be a challenge, but if the Nittany Lions can limit what they bring to the table while returning to their offensive consistency, they could wait for a Wednesday night win.

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