With no drama involved in Indiana’s 72-49 mauling of historically horrible Penn State on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall, the sell-out crowd had to concentrate on other means of entertainment.
To that end, Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo did not disappoint.
It was the middle of the second half, with Indiana leading 59-35, and he continued to put on a show. When Indiana freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell missed his second of two free throws, Oladipo lunged for the ball, just missing a steal with his body flying over the base line and heading into the crowd as the rest of the players went the other direction.
Penn State passed the ball up court to the other base line, and Oladipo somehow was there as well in the blink of an eye. This time, he did force the turnover with his lightning-quick hands.
He explained his energy after the rout.
“We are not trying to beat Penn State,” he said. “We are trying to beat the rest of the country.”
Oladipo, who finished with a game-high 19 points, had his usual assortment of fantastic plays that might just turn him into the Big Ten’s Player of the Year. He had five assists, six rebounds and three steals. He buried both his 3-point attempts.
“We were locking up and playing defense,” he said. “That is what is going to take us to the wins.”
Any other redeeming qualities from the mismatch were limited. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell (15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field), Will Sheehey (12 points) and Christian Watford (10 points, 9 rebounds) had nice efforts, and Cody Zeller dominated defensively in the paint (8 rebounds, 3 blocks) yet had an off-night offensively as he scored just 2 points.
“Cody did a lot of other things to pick us up in that game,” Oladipo said. “He played tremendous defense. He is doing what it takes to win.”
The fans were left to mull over the incompetence of the Big Ten’s worst team.
It might be in bad taste to kick a Nittany Lion while he is down, but it’s hard to think Penn State will be capable of winning a conference game this season. Penn State fell to 0-7 in conference action and 8-11 overall. The Lions haven’t won a road game this season and haven’t won a conference road game since 2011. That’s 12 and counting.
The first half was an example of how awful it has been for coach Patrick Chambers. With seven minutes remaining in the opening half, Penn State was 4 of 17 from the floor, 0 for 4 from the 3-point arc, and had no assists and five turnovers. The Lions were getting outrebounded by seven, and they had picked up their seventh foul in the first 10:43 of play.
Indiana just seemed to be coasting at that point and held just a 20-10 advantage.
The two teams bumbled along offensively until Sheehey dropped two 3-pointers on consecutive positions to give the Hoosiers a 29-16 lead.
After going into the locker room at 33-19, Indiana put a grip on the game in short order. In the opening 1:05 of the second half, Ferrell and Jordan Hulls hit 3-pointers and Oladipo hit a basket after a turnover for a 8-0 run and a 41-19 lead.
Indiana finished 11 for 20 from the 3-point arc, while Penn State was 2 of 15.