With a perfect home record including three wins over ranked opponents, Indiana has done a great job re-establishing its edge in Bloomington.
Winning on the road in Big Ten play is the next step in its development.
The 12th-ranked Hoosiers face Penn State on Sunday when they try to snap a 16-game road losing streak in league play that dates back to their last visit to State College.
Indiana (14-1, 2-1) was 2-11 at home against ranked opponents in coach Tom Crean’s first three years on the job, but the Hoosiers are 3-0 in those games this season. A pair of those wins came in their last two games, 74-70 over then-No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday and 73-71 over 16th-ranked Michigan on Thursday.
The Hoosiers, whose 11-0 home record includes a last-second victory over then-No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 10, hadn’t beaten three ranked teams in Bloomington since 2005-06.
“We have done a good job of preparing only for the task at hand,” Crean said. “I think that is a by-product of a maturing, player-led team.”
Crean said a defining moment for his Hoosiers was a 94-73 victory at Evansville on Nov. 16 in their first road game, and they also won two weeks later at North Carolina State. However, Indiana lost 80-65 at then-No. 16 Michigan State on Dec. 28 in its Big Ten opener to fall to 1-27 in conference road games since Crean’s arrival.
That lone win was 67-61 over Penn State on Jan. 21, 2010. This return to State College begins a stretch in which the Hoosiers play six of nine away from home.
The Nittany Lions (9-7, 1-2) won six of their final eight Big Ten home games last season - three over ranked teams - and rolled in their first one this year with a 65-45 victory over Purdue on Thursday.
Sophomore Billy Oliver had career highs with seven 3-pointers and 21 points, and leading scorer Tim Frazier added 15 to give first-year coach Patrick Chambers his first Big Ten victory.
More importantly, someone other than Frazier (17.1 points per game) led Penn State in scoring for the first time in seven contests.
“Tim (Frazier) got him wide-open shots and when Billy plays like that it really opens up things for Tim, too,” Chambers said.
Slowing down Frazier, the Big Ten leader with 6.8 assists per game, could be key for the Hoosiers backcourt trio of Verdell Jones III, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls.
“Tim Frazier is playing as well as anyone in the league and he does a great job of getting in the lane as he looks to score or facilitating for others,” Crean said.
Frazier also had three of his 36 steals - second in the Big Ten - on Thursday as Penn State held Purdue to a season-worst 31.9 percent shooting.
Duplicating that performance may be tough against an Indiana team among the nation’s leaders in scoring (82.0 ppg) and field-goal shooting (50.5 percent). The Hoosiers entered the weekend leading Division I in 3-point accuracy at 45.6 percent, led by Hulls going 32 of 58 (55.2).
Penn State has won six of seven against Indiana after taking both meetings last season, including 61-55 in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.
Christian Watford, who led the Hoosiers with 15 points in that contest, is averaging 20.8 over the last four games. He’s shooting 52.1 percent (25 for 48) from 3-point range this season.
“He’s got a serious focus and intensity combined right now that he just continues to harness,” Crean said.