Nittany Lions Head to No. 7 Indiana

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No matter what the Big Ten record reads, the Nittany Lion basketball attitude and principles stays the same.

Play hard. Play together.  But you don't have to be perfect.

8496061.jpegAfter coming up just short in Saturday's 68-64 setback to Nebraska, the Nittany Lions head on the road Wednesday night for a clash against seventh-ranked Indiana inside Assembly Hall.  The Lions will be seeing the Hoosiers for the second time in 16 days.

Indiana jumped out to a 44-27 lead at halftime in the meeting on Jan. 7, but the Nittany Lions battled toe-to-toe for much of the second half before the Hoosiers pulled away late for a 74-51 victory.  Penn State shot 29 percent in the second half, but was out-scored just 30-24 because of its defensive effort.

"Indiana is a great team," head coach Patrick Chambers said.  "We have to play like we did in the second half and give ourselves a chance.  We've got to go out and have some fun...Hey, it's another opportunity for us to get a win.  It's another opportunity for us to beat a top 25 team.  There are so many positives about the game, and that has got to be our mindset.  That's what it is going to be."

Heading into Wednesday's clash, Chambers and the Nittany Lions are focused on getting stops defensively.  Superb effort for 40 minutes is critical every night, but getting stops and knocking down open looks on offense are two keys to the Lions' continued evolution from now until the end of the Big Ten season.

Finding a way to slow down Indiana's up-tempo style is especially important when playing the Hoosiers on their home floor.  Indiana feeds off of its crowd, and the Lions can ill afford to give up fastbreak points against the high-powered offense.

In addition to the aforementioned effort on the defensive end of the, the Lions will need to make shots on Wednesday against an Indiana team that ranks second in the nation in points per game (84.4 ppg).  The Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1) also rank sixth nationally in field goal percentage (50.2), seventh in three-point field goal percentage (41.3), second in rebound margin (+11.1) and first in scoring margin (+23.8).

Sophomore center Cody Zeller leads the Hoosiers in scoring (17.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) while shooting 63 percent from the field.  Junior guard Victor Oladipo is second in scoring (13.2 ppg) on a blistering 66 percent field goal percentage (No. 3 in the nation in field goal percentage).  In all, five Hoosiers average double figures, forward Christian Watford (12.8 ppg), guard Jordan Hulls (11.4 ppg) and sixth-man Will Sheehey (10.4 ppg).

Wednesday's game kicks off a string of three road games in the next five contests.  The Nittany Lions take on Ohio State at home on Saturday before traveling to Iowa next Thursday.

Keys to the Game:
- Make shots early - Getting off to a quick start in a hostile environment is critical.
- Defend for 40 minutes - Against a team with Indiana's firepower, playing consistent, competitive defense is essential for the Lions to give themselves a chance to score a victory.
- Keep the tempo manageable - Indiana wants to push the ball every chance it gets.  Offensive rebounding and second-chance points can limit IU's ability to run in transition.
- Play with confidence - Wednesday is another opportunity for the Lions to battle toe-to-toe with an elite team in the Big Ten.  Embrace the chance to compete with one of the nation's best and play with confidence on both ends of the floor.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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