With each game this season we'll put the spotlight on an Indiana player that we believe is someone to keep an eye on for that particular game.
Look back at the first game against Penn State, and a few things jump out. Penn State jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half and the Hoosiers somehow fought back to win, 79-76 to secure what is still their only true road win of the season. Austin Etherington chipped in a big five points including a monster 3-pointer late. Stanford Robinson had nine points. Yogi Ferrell had 15 points, which isn't a big game by his standards, and didn't shoot it particularly well but dished out seven assists. But one thing that stands out about that game was the play of Vonleh. I just remember thinking that Penn State did not have an answer for Vonleh. He had a career-high 19 points in that game and hit both of his 3-point attempts. But he was active inside. He was 5-of-9 from the field but he was getting fouled constantly inside. He went to the line eight times in that game and hit seven of them. It was one of those games where you thought you were seeing a pretty good preview of what could be coming with IU's talented freshman forward.
Fast forward to tonight and Vonleh will have that same match up with Penn State except this time it will be in Assembly Hall. One of the big keys for Indiana is to pound the ball inside and let Vonleh take it to the Nittany Lions. In the first game, Penn State couldn't stay out of foul trouble trying to slow him down. Donovon Jack was limited to 12 minutes before ultimately fouling out. So that will be a key tonight, both in terms of trying to get Penn State in foul trouble and keeping Vonleh out of it. The important thing is to establish Vonleh early, hope he has some early success and then keep going to the well. It's a game plan that could be important Saturday against Purdue, too. But with 23 games under his belt as a college player, this is the time where Vonleh needs to begin to take his game to the next level. That level could begin tonight with the Nittany Lions.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch