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Culture Shock

Indiana Men’s Basketball Rolls Past Penn State, Loses Rob Phinisee to Injury

Winning can occasionally come at a cost.

 

Indiana pummelled Penn State 74-57 Wednesday night inside Assembly Hall to avenge a three-point loss to the Nittany Lions three weeks ago. But, the headline of the game was the injury to guard Rob Phinisee, who was helped off the court late in the first half with an apparent achilles tendon injury.

 

“I really didn’t see the play,” head coach Mike Woodson said after the game. “I just saw him come up limping and he wasn’t really moving so I figured he had done something. I’m sure he’ll be evaluated tomorrow.” 

 

Given the inconsistent point guard play for this team, he would be a major loss if he were to miss an extended period of time. Point guard Khristian Lander has been absent from the lineup since December 22nd [2021], and despite “we want Lander” chants from the student section late in the game, he remained on the bench. Woodson was asked about Lander’s availability after the game, and his response was that “his physicality” was holding him back. He would have been inserted if healthy.

 

Phinisee’s injury was really the only negative in what was a bloodbath from the very beginning. Indiana dominated from the get go, taking the lead 13 seconds into the ballgame and never giving it up. The Hoosiers built a 17 point lead in just 8 minutes. In comparison, the previous seven games saw Indiana go down a combined 49 points in that span, which sparked some debate about changing the starting five. Woodson opted to go with the same five he’s gone with all season long.

 

“We took it personally,” said Race Thompson when asked about whether there was pressure on the first unit. “It was really about playing with more energy, but at the same time being composed.” 

 

The Hoosiers certainly proved that the loss in Happy Valley January 2nd was just a fluke. They went into the half up 46-17, their largest lead since November 2020. Xavier Johnson, Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis all had double digits after the first twenty minutes. They finished with 19, 18, and 15 respectively.

 

The dominance from the starters was something we had not seen in a while, as the bench has lifted Indiana to many of its Big Ten wins this season. But, it was a good sign for the Hoosiers to see someone like Tamar Bates nail both of his three-point attempts. Indiana as a team shot a season-high 10-13 (77%) from beyond the arc.

 

“The ball was moving. We got good looks and what we like to call quick strikes for three,” Woodson said. “We gotta shoot them when we’re open.”

 

For Penn State, a thoroughly disappointing result given how much they controlled the tempo at their home against the Hoosiers. They did come out much stronger in the second half, highlighted by a 13-0 run late in the second half to cut the lead to 14. Jalen Pickett scored all 14 of his points in the second half and John Harrar added 13. Woodson was displeased with the fact that Indiana didn’t play for a full forty minutes, as they were outscored 40-28 in the second half.

 

Indiana did miss Michael Durr from the box score. The 7’0 big man has seen an uptick in minutes of late, but didn’t see a single minute tonight. Strictly a “coaches decision,” said Woodson.

 

Indiana’s depth will be tested if Phinisee has to miss some time. But, in the grand scheme of things, Wednesday night was a dominating performance in response to a lackluster one just three days ago.

Indiana goes 2 for 3 on the homestand while improving to 15-5 on the season and 6-4 in Big Ten play. They will travel to Maryland to take on the Terrapins Saturday at 2:30 PM ET. The game can be heard on WIUX 99.1 FM and the online stream here with Jace Dery and Zak Ibrahim on the call.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF IU ATHLETICS

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