Coaches love to talk about players impacting the game beyond their stat line.
A first glance at Cody Zeller’s offensive production in Wednesday night’s victory against Penn State backs that up.
Zeller, the preseason All-American, didn’t make a field goal for the first time in his college career, but the seventh-ranked Hoosiers still routed the Nittany Lions, 72-49.
Zeller had posted consecutive double-doubles in IU’s previous two games. But he couldn’t find his touch against Penn State (8-11, 0-7 Big Ten), finishing with a career-low two points while hitting 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. He also had eight rebounds.
“He had problems?” Victor Oladipo said when asked about Zeller’s offensive woes. “Cody did a lot of other things to impact the game. He had 10 deflections and rebounded the ball.
“He might be having a slow night on offense, but he’s doing what it takes to win.”
“He didn’t really look for that many opportunities to score,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said of Zeller. “He does a lot of different things in the flow of the game. He might be guarded by one person but everyone knows when he gets the ball.
“He knows he can be as aggressive as he wants to be. I just get concerned about his technique, make sure he’s finishing.”
With Zeller and the rest of the offense fairly ineffective inside, the Hoosiers (17-2, 5-1) did their damage from beyond the arc.
IU hit 11-of-20 on 3-pointers while making just 9-of-24 from inside the arc. The struggles were echoed at the free-throw line, where the Hoosiers shot just 56.8 percent (21-of-37).
“We weren’t hitting a lot of shots,” said Oladipo, who led the Hoosiers with 19 points. “But at the end of the day, we were coming back and locking up on defense.”
That was the keyword among Indiana’s players: defense.
“Points don’t win games, it’s your defensive effort,” Will Sheehey said, pointing to IU’s three defensive stops in a row to fuel an 8-0 run that opened the second half.
It was a strong start coming out of halftime for the Hoosiers, who had been outscored in the second half of every Big Ten game except the first meeting with Penn State.
“It seems like everybody in the country doesn’t think we have good second halves,” Oladipo said.
Not so Wednesday night, when the Hoosiers were 10-of-17 from the field, including 6-of-8 on 3-pointers, in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions hit just 17-of-51 from the field, including an 8-for-27 performance in the first half as they fell behind 33-19.
Zeller’s previous career-low for made field goals was two, which he did three times as a freshman and against Georgia this season.
Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell had a season-high 15 points, Sheehey scored 12, and Christian Watford added 10 points.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Ferrell said.
D.J. Newbill led the Nittany Lions with 18 points and Jermaine Marshall scored 12 before fouling out. Brandon Taylor (0 points) and Sasa Borovnjak (4 points) also fouled out as Penn State was whistled for 29 fouls.
PENN STATE (8-11) — Taylor 0-6 0-0 0, Borovnjak 1-5 2-2 4, Newbill 7-17 4-6 18, Marshall 5-11 1-2 12, Colella 0-1 1-2 1, Maduegbunam 0-0 0-0 0, Jack 0-3 0-0 0, Montminy 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 2-3 1-2 5, Ackerman 0-0 0-0 0, Wisniewski 0-0 0-0 0, Travis 2-5 4-4 9. Totals 17-51 13-18 49.
INDIANA (17-2) — Watford 3-8 3-7 10, Zeller 0-4 2-4 2, Hulls 3-7 0-0 8, Oladipo 4-7 9-12 19, Ferrell 6-7 0-1 15, Sheehey 4-6 1-2 12, Mosquera-Perea 0-0 0-1 0, Creek 0-2 0-0 0, Abell 0-2 2-4 2, Hollowell 0-1 4-6 4. Totals 20-44 21-37 72.
Halftime—Indiana 33-19. 3-Point Goals—Penn St. 2-15 (Travis 1-4, Marshall 1-5, Colella 0-1, Newbill 0-2, Taylor 0-3), Indiana 11-20 (Sheehey 3-3, Ferrell 3-4, Oladipo 2-2, Hulls 2-5, Watford 1-3, Hollowell 0-1, Creek 0-2). Fouled Out—Borovnjak, Marshall, Taylor. Rebounds—Penn St. 32 (Newbill 7), Indiana 39 (Watford 9). Assists—Penn St. 5 (Marshall 2), Indiana 14 (Oladipo 5). Total Fouls—Penn St. 29, Indiana 19. A—17,472.
Coaches love to talk about players impacting the game beyond their stat line.
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“It was a really good experience for everybody. It felt great to finally come out here and put some things together. It’s also really nice when your offense puts a lot of runs on the board,” Moore said.
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“It was a disappointing weekend. We went all the way down to Tennessee and didn’t get to play. We sat around in the hotel room. We came here and it was still raining. It was nice to get out and see some live pitching,” ISU center fielder Landon Curry said.
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