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Indiana
vs. Penn State
When: 7 p.m. today
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM, 102.7 FM

Hoosiers will not overlook struggling Nittany Lions

– Penn State is winless in Big Ten games this season.

But Indiana isn’t taking the Nittany Lions for granted.

“There is a danger for every team in the Big Ten,” Indiana guard Victor Oladipo said Tuesday. “It is the Big Ten. It’s the best conference in the country. Just because they have not won a (conference) game doesn’t mean they are not capable of winning one. We can’t take anyone in this league lightly, whether it’s Penn State or the No. 1 team in the league.”

The No. 7 Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) face Penn State (8-10, 0-6) at 7 p.m. today at Assembly Hall.

It’s the second meeting between the teams in a little more than two weeks. Oladipo said the Nittany Lions have improved since Indiana beat Penn State 74-51 on Jan. 7 at Bryce Jordan Arena.

“They are a better team. They have been playing really tight games,” Oladipo said. “They are very capable of winning games in the Big Ten. We know that they are better, but we are better as well, so we have to go out and play at a high level at both ends of the floor.

“We have been working really hard on our defense. Even when our shots are falling, we still have to play defense at a high level.”

Four IU players reached double figures in scoring in the Jan. 7 game. Christian Watford led the Hoosiers with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“It helps that we have played them once already because we know them,” said Indiana sophomore forward Cody Zeller, who had 15 points and five rebounds against Penn State.

“Actually playing a team is a lot different than watching them on film. They have gotten a lot better since we played them, so we watched some of their more recent games, and we can see their improvement.”

Indiana held Penn State to 31.7 percent shooting. The Hoosiers forced 19 turnovers, which led to 19 points. IU had 18 bench points and soon could be getting even more help from the bench.

Senior forward Derek Elston returned to action and played one minute in Sunday’s win over Northwestern after missing three games because of injury. Guard Maurice Creek warmed up Sunday but did not play. Creek, who last played Dec. 15 against Butler, has been out with a foot injury.

“Maurice is just coming back and has not had any full practices (as of Monday morning). He was available (Sunday), but it just wasn’t the time or the place yet. That’s coming and that should be this week,” IU coach Tom Crean said during the Big Ten teleconference Monday.

“Derek had not practiced until some of Friday. He had a tough week, just with not being where he needed to be health-wise. We put him in, and he didn’t do a bad job at all. When they went to the zone and you haven’t played in a very long time, I didn’t want to have anyone who was tentative in that. It will be good for him to be able to help us this week.”

lpope@jg.net

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