Indiana and Penn State are two teams looking to not fall far behind in the competitive Big Ten.
That makes the matchup between the Nittany Lions (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) and Hoosiers (5-4, 0-2) on Wednesday night crucial, as both teams are still seeking their first conference wins of the season.
"We've got to get in the race," Indiana coach Archie Miller said on his radio show Monday night. "The gun took off and everyone took off running, and we're holding in the blocks right now, and you don't want to get too far behind because there's some fast teams.
"I think just in general our resolve, our togetherness, our resolve early here in the conference season is going to be tested here on Wednesday night."
Indiana is returning home after a 69-60 loss at then-No. 18 Illinois in a game in which the Hoosiers led by five points in the middle of the second half but couldn't make big shots and big plays down the stretch.
"We were good enough to win the game," Miller said. "We had our opportunities in terms of execution late, being able to hit a couple of shots."
Armaan Franklin (13.6 points per game, 4.8 rebounds) has sparked the Hooisers of late, averaging 19.5 points and shooting 65.4 percent from 3-point range (17 of 26) over Indiana's past four games. But the team is looking to get more from preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is coming off a 3-for-13 shooting day in the loss to Illinois.
"In this league, your best players, your most experienced players that you are counting on, have to be able to deliver for you in a way that gives you a chance," Miller said.
Penn State is still searching for its identity after losing front-court starters Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins from last season's 21-10 team. The Nittany Lions also are coming off a loss to Illinois, 98-81 on Dec. 23. Penn State jumped to an early 19-4 lead but couldn't sustain that high level of play for 40 minutes.
"Just staying with the grind," Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry said. "Just focusing on addressing some of our weaknesses and strengthening our strengths. Talk about having a Big Ten mentality and a Big Ten mental toughness, and we've said this multiple times -- it's the best league in the country, and you've gotta have really tough skin and focus on yourselves and focus on the next one that's in front of you."
Four Penn State players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Izaiah Brockington, who is at 15.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
--Field Level Media