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January 11, 2014
Desperate for a conference win
With a week off and the semester break still ongoing, Indiana has had plenty of time to prepare for Saturday's 12 noon game at Penn State.
"We are coming off a very good week of practice and preparation," said coach Tom Crean on Friday. "With the bye coming during the break, it has allowed us to work smart and spend more time on getting better both individually and as a team."
Indiana is coming off a disappointing 73-56 home loss to Michigan State, the worst home loss since February 25, 2010.
"Our goal this week was to continue to build the identity of running, of moving without the ball, getting the ball reversed, getting back on defense, challenging shots better, making sure we're rebounding at a high rate, finishing better, all those things," said Crean. "We have to really stay in the moment as much as possible for our team to gain confidence and that's what we're trying to do."
"I loved our attitude and toughness and there is no question we are getting better."
Like Indiana, Penn State is winless yet in Big Ten play. But the Nittany Lions feature one of the conference's top backcourts in Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill. After missing most of last season with an Achilles tendon tear, Frazier leads in the team in scoring (17.1 ppg) and tops the entire Big Ten in assists, dishing out 6.9 per game.
"Frazier is a tough matchup because of how much he thrives on pressure and playing through the pressure and what he creates," said Crean.
Newbill has come on to average 16.9 points and is the team's most dangerous threat from the outside, knocking down threes at a 41.8 percent rate on the season.
Coming into Wednesday's close loss at home to Minnesota, Newbill was the team's leading scorer but he was held scoreless for the first time in 78 games, fouling out in 14 minutes.
6-foot-7 forwards Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor both average in double figures and Pitt transfer John Johnson has given the team a scoring lift since becoming eligible four games ago. The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging 11.0 points per game.
Indiana has a chance to do some damage on the boards in this game as the Hoosiers lead the league in offensive rebound percentage (41.8) and sit sixth nationally while Penn State ranks 271st nationally at just 28.7 percent.
Coach Patrick Chambers team does take care of the ball much better than Indiana. The Nittany Lions are 20th nationally in turnover percentage while Indiana woeful 22.2 percent turnover rate ranks 327th in the country.
The 12 p.m. ET game will be carried by the Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Stephen Bardo on the broadcast.
For more on Penn State check out the Hoosier Game Day page.
Projected Penn State starters and key reserves with current year stats: