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Indiana Basketball Game Preview: Penn State – key storylines, injury report, how to watch



Previewing Indiana basketball vs Penn State by looking at key storylines, injury reports, how to watch and other updates. (Syndication: The Herald-Times)

Indiana basketball continues Big Ten play in its 124th season of competition with a matinee matchup against Penn State at noon ET on Saturday Feb. 3.

The Nittany Lions (10-11, 4-6), led by first-year head coach Mike Rhoades, are coming off a 61-46 road victory at Rutgers on Jan. 31. Senior guard Ace Baldwin Jr. led the way with 15 points, 10 assists, and five steals while playing the full 40 minutes.

Sophomore guard Kanye Clary, who missed the Rutgers game, leads PSU in scoring at 18.4 points per game. He is shooting 37.8% (28-of-74) from the 3-point line and 82.8% (72-of-87) from the free throw line.

Baldwin, a transfer from VCU, scores 13.2 points per night to go along with 5.0 assists and a Big Ten-leading 2.9 steals. Fifth-year senior forward Qudus Wahab, a two-time transfer from Georgetown and Maryland, adds 9.2 points per outing to pair with a team-best 8.0 rebounds.

Tip is scheduled for 12:00 PM ET onFS1.

Below is the full preview of Indiana basketball vs Penn State.

Key Storylines

Anthony Leal has EARNED these minutes 

Indiana basketball has been in-need of players to step up throughout the year after what has been just a true roller-coaster of a season. A player that has seemingly stepped up more often than not has been senior guard Anthony Leal.

When his number is called, Leal has been more than ready. That was evident in Indiana’s win over Iowa on Tuesday where the four-year vet scored a new career-high with 13 points while shooting 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc. He also added 7 rebounds and made a pair of clutch free throws to seal the game for the Hoosiers.

“It’s really not that hard to stay ready if you do the right things,” Leal said postgame.

If you are looking for a player that you can mold into the perfect teammate, it is Anthony Leal. Yeah, his minutes have been nonexistent for most of his Indiana basketball career, but he has always had a positive attitude and a ready mindset.

With Indiana lacking true senior leadership, that is where Leal has stepped up both on and off the court.

“He’s been a true, true teammate. And guys like that, it’s easy to coach,” Woodson said about Leal. “It’s easy to throw them in the game and feel good about it because you know what you’re going to get based on how he performs in practice. And he’s earned the right to play, and that’s why I’m playing him.”

Indiana needed Kel’el Ware back in the ‘worst way’

Over the last couple of weeks, Indiana basketball has been bitten by the injury bug. While that bug has bitten even more recently with the injuries of Xavier Johnson and Malik Reneau, Mike Woodson was able to get the ‘big fella’ back, Kel’el Ware, on Tuesday vs Iowa. Ware had missed the previous two games, which resulted in two loses for the Hoosiers.

Ware played 35 minutes in his return, scoring 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and had 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and just one turnover.

Safe to say, the Hoosiers are MUCH better when Kel’el Ware is back on the floor. Mike Woodson and Indiana needed Ware back in the ‘worst way’ possible.

“We needed him back in the worst way,” Mike Woodson said postgame. “Games like this, man, it’s huge for our ball club. He gets 23 and 10 and three blocks. We were missing his length and ability to block shots. We just didn’t have it. It was nice having him back. He was huge tonight for our ball club.”

The question moving forward will be on his long term health, plus the health of his ‘buddy ball’ mate Malik Reneau. Ware was seen at times shaken up and favoring his bad ankle throughout his return so that will be something to monitor. If Reneau is out an extended period of time, it will be Ware’s time to step up even more than what he has done all season.

“I mean, I liked it a lot,” Indiana freshman guard Gabe Cupps said of Ware’s emotion. “That’s the thing we need from him. He’s obviously super talented, super skilled. And a lot of people’s knock on him is that he’s not tough. And I think he shows it in spurts, but once he can be consistent in that — and he showed that tonight — he’s an unstoppable player.”

A win gets you back above .500 in Big Ten play

Believe it or not, Indiana has a chance to get back on the right side of things in the Big Ten. After following below .500 in the loss to Illinois, Indiana got back to even with a home win over Iowa.

Now with another game at home vs a beatable opponent in Penn State, Indiana could have a winning record once again in the conference.

These are the type of games Indiana needs to have in order to get back on the right side of the bubble conversations. Taken care of opponents like Penn State at home is an absolute must.

February is a huge month for the Hoosiers. Gotta rack up some wins and it starts with Penn State today.

Read: Indiana basketball freshman Mackenzie Mgbako not making ‘big enough splash’ for one-and-done potential despite recent surge

Series History

Indiana holds a series advantage of 42-15 against Penn State. The Nittany Lions swept the two-game set last season with an 85-66 win at the Bryce Jordan Center during the regular season and a 77-73 result in the semifinals of the 2023 Big Ten Tournament.

Trayce Jackson-Davis averaged 19.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game in the two contests against the Nittany Lions last season.

Indiana has won each of the last six meetings between the two programs played in Bloomington dating back to a 76-73 result on Jan. 13, 2015. IU has won 14 of the last 20 games overall in the series.

Watch: Mike Woodson previews Penn State

Injury Updates

Xavier Johnson: At the 2:12 mark late in the second half, Xavier Johnson drove to the basket but was fouled hard going for the dunk. He landed awkwardly on his left arm and was screaming on the floor in excruciating pain. He was helped off of the floor to the locker room. He would not return. He is listed as out today.

Malik Reneau: At the 17:27 mark of the first half of Iowa game on Tuesday, sophomore forward Malik Reneau went down with an ankle injury. He had to be helped to the locker room. He would later return to the bench briefly, but then headed back to the locker room again — this time on crutches. He would not return to the sidelines and was on crutches even after the game. He is ‘questionable’ ahead of today’s game.

Kel’el Ware: The Indiana basketball sophomore center returned from a two-game absence in Indiana’s win over Iowa on Tuesday. While he did play for the majority of the game, you could tell he was favoring his bad ankle throughout.

Jakai Newton: Newton had a lower body surgical procedure done this past offseason to help fix a previous injury he sustained during high school. He is still recovering and is not expected to play for the rest of the season.

Watch: Kel’el Ware previews Penn State

Quick Hitters

Who?: Indiana (13-8) (5-5 Big Ten) vs Penn State (10-11) (4-6 Big Ten)

When?: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2024 • 12 PM ET

Where?: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (17,222) • Bloomington, Ind.

TV: FS1 (Matt Schumacker, Stephen Bardo)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, John Herrick)

Betting Lines: Indiana basketball is listed as a 5.5-point favorite via DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.