Shortly after No. 9 Penn State had its eight-game win streak snapped Tuesday night against Illinois, coach Pat Chambers was asked whether the loss could be a blessing in order to get his team to refocus.
“I was really enjoying winning,” Chambers said. “Maybe we can start a new (win streak). That will be the next step for this group.”
The Nittany Lions (20-6, 10-5 Big Ten) will have an opportunity to do precisely that when they visit Indiana (17-9, 7-8) on Sunday in Bloomington, Ind.
Indiana has won 11 of the last 14 meetings between the two schools, though Penn State posted a 64-49 victory over the Hoosiers on Jan. 29 in State College, Pa.
Penn State will be looking to bounce back from a 62-56 home loss to Illinois. Senior forward Lamar Stevens got into early foul trouble for the Nittany Lions, and Penn State shot just 4 of 19 from 3-point range.
“Give Illinois credit,” Chambers said following the game. “They played really well, they played really tough, their speed really disrupted us, they played small, they fronted Lamar Stevens in the post and played him on the backside, they did some great things.
“Great lessons to be learned in the Big Ten that you have to show up every night. Nothing is going to be handed to you.”
Penn State has played its last four games without sophomore guard Myreon Jones, who remains out with an illness. Jones averages a team second-best 14.1 points per game while leading the club in 3-point field goal percentage (41.3 percent).
“I just want to make sure he’s as healthy as possible before he puts the uniform on again,” Chambers said.
Indiana is looking to build off a 68-56 road win at Minnesota on Wednesday night. After enduring a four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers have won two of their last three contests.
Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis helped carry Indiana to the win over Minnesota, posting his eighth double-double of the season with career highs in points (27) and rebounds (16). The 6-foot-9 Jackson-Davis is averaging a team-high 14.1 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds on the season.
“He’s been a bright spot for us all season and I think he’s the freshman of the year in our league,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “He’s my guy and tonight he delivered.”
Miller also was pleased with the Hoosiers’ guard play in the Minnesota win, with Indiana posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 15 to 10.
“We were much more under control, and I thought part of being under control was our guards really being strong with it and executing what we wanted to do,” Miller said. “When we executed, we got the ball where we wanted to, and as a coach that’s all you can ask.”
The Hoosiers are no strangers to knocking off ranked teams at home this season. Indiana is 13-3 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, with wins over Florida State, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Penn State, meanwhile, has played well on the road, posting a 5-3 record. Chambers said it will be important for the Nittany Lions to stay unified after its recent home loss.
“We’ve got to come closer together now,” Chambers said. “This isn’t the time to point fingers, this isn’t the time to run away from each other. This is the time to come together, and get even closer.”
–Field Level Media