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Indiana Hoosiers Step Up On Defense In Win over Penn State Nittany Lions

Rich Barnes – USA TODAY Sports Images

Indiana wasn’t as explosive as it usually is in its 74-51 win over Penn State on Monday night, but the nation’s top-scoring team didn’t need to be at its best.

The Hoosiers still did enough offensively to win the game, including getting 16 points from Christian Watford and 14 points out of Jordan Hulls.

Sure, the point total was about 13 below its usual average, but the Hoosiers are going to be in games where they need to find different ways to win, and this was one of those games.

Indiana, which struggled a bit in the second half after leading 44-27 at the break, still shot 52.4 percent from the floor, although it was just 64 percent from the free-throw line.

“Sometimes when your shots aren’t there for you or your free throws aren’t there…as long as your defense is there, you’ve got a chance to stay in the game,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said in a post-game press conference.

Indiana was never seriously threatened.

The Hoosiers broke the will of the Nittany Lions in the opening half, and while the success of the offense in the opening 20 minutes was impressive, it was the defensive effort that really shined for the Hoosiers.

“I thought our defense did a lot of that,” Crean said in a post-game press conference. “I think our guys were really locked in.”

No doubt. Penn State shot only 34.4 percent from the floor in the first half and shot 31.7 percent for the game.

The Hoosiers, though, will be challenged on Saturday when they play at Minnesota, and the game could a long way in determining who wins the Big Ten championship.

If the Hoosiers can step it up on defense the way they did against the Nittany Lions, they will find a way to nail down the important road win this weekend.

Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.

Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at