Basketball Preview: Rutgers

Audio/Story posted February 2, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Sports Staff


Will Desautelle, Brian McLaughlin, Anthony Spada and Zach Kaplan give their predictions of Penn State's upcoming game against the Scarlet Knights.


Two teams in the lower half of the Big Ten conference will face off on Saturday as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-11, 1-9 Big Ten) head to University Park, Pa. to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-11, 4-6 Big Ten).

For Penn State it could be a chance to get back on track in the Big Ten race against an opponent who struggles in conference play. These two teams faced off once earlier in the season on New Year’s Day when the Nittany Lions overcame the Scarlet Knight 60-47 in that game.

Rutgers comes into the game with a three game losing streak and their one conference win of the season coming against Nebraska on January 21st. Rutgers won the Nebraska contest 65-64 with one second remaining on the clock. Penn State are coming into the game winning only one of their last four, including falling to Indiana in triple overtime 110-102 on Wednesday.

In this matchup, Penn State lead the all-time series 40-30. Penn State is 25-8 against Rutgers when playing at home as well, adding to their confidence coming into the game. In their earlier matchup, Rutgers held Penn State to only 36.4 percent shooting, but couldn’t consistently find he basket with their own shots, shooting only 28.6 percent on their field goal attempts and 15 percent on their three pointers.

Rutgers’ struggles have been consistent all year in the Big Ten, averaging 58 points per game while giving up an average of 71.5 points. Rutgers have only scored more than 60 points four times in Big Ten play, while their opponents have not yet scored less than 60, Penn State being the lowest at exactly 60. Penn State on the other hand have averaged 68.1 points in their 10 conference games while their opponents averaged 74.3. Still not great as Penn State’s defense tends to suffer when their offense picks up.

Rutgers are going to have to watch out for multiple Penn State players, including freshman forward Mike Watkins who leads the Nittany Lions in rebounds on both sides of the court and who earned his sixth double-double of the season against Indiana on Wednesday. Penn State also have four players averaging over 11 points per game, with Watkins just missing out at 9.5. Penn State’s four are Shep Garner (12.5 PPG), Tony Carr (12 PPG), Payton Banks (11.9 PPG) and Lamar Stevens (11.7 PPG).

Penn State will be keeping a close eye on Rutgers’ standouts as well, including junior forward Deshawn Freeman who had his ninth double-double of the season against Iowa on Tuesday and leads his team in boards on both sides of the court. Freeman’s double-double against Iowa gives him the most double-doubles in a season for a Rutgers player since Rashod Kent (14) in 2001-02. Rutgers top scorers are Corey Sanders (12.4 PPG), Deshawn Freeman (11.3 PPG) and Nigel Johnson (11 PPG).

This matchup will come down to whichever team wakes up more ready to play, as consistency has been a problem for both teams. With the higher shooting percentage and more consistent defense, Penn State looks to have the edge heading into Saturday. The triple overtime game could affect the Nittany Lion starters, who also have one less day to rest up for the game, but Penn State should have confidence against a Rutgers team who barely managed one win in the Big Ten so far this season.

Prediction: Penn State 70, Rutgers 56


Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

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Tommy Butler

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Tommy Butler has worked as both a reporter and a play by play analyst during his time at CommRadio. Tommy has written articles for the Penn State football, basketball and hockey teams, served as the beat write for almost every Penn State sport, and called baseball, soccer, basketball, football and hockey games. Tommy also works with The Armchair All-Americans as the Big Ten Department Head and Editor-in-Chief on the senior board of directors. To contact Tommy, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @ButlerOnTheAir .

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Will Desautelle

Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Spanish

Will Desautelle is a senior from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in sports journalism. Will is a contributor for Centre County Report and is a staff writer for, covering Penn State men’s hockey and women’s and men’s volleyball. He also covered Super Bowl LIV in Miami for CommRadio and is one of the station’s editors. This past summer, Will interned at ABC-7/WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and covered the Little League World Series as a beat writer for Little League International. Will has also completed internships with State College Magazine, the State College Spikes and Additionally, he is a member of the Penn State Men’s Club Volleyball team, which finished first place at nationals in 2019, and is a member of the THON Communications Committee. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @wdesautelle.

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Brian McLaughlin

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Brian McLaughlin is a Senior in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and one of two student General Managers for CommRadio. He is a Play-by-Play voice for many Penn State sports for CommRadio. Recently he has worked as a Play by Play broadcaster for the Y-D Red Sox in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Previously, he has also worked as a Play by Play Broadcaster for the Kalamazoo Growlers of the Northwoods League. He has also interned with the Altoona Curve, the Double-A Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. To contact him please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Zach Kaplan

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Zach Kaplan is a senior broadcast journalism major with a double minor in history and sociology. Beyond his work with the Centre County Report, Zach is involved with CommRadio as a sports director and on-air personality, as well as a broadcaster for BTN Student U productions on-campus. He also works with 46Live both on-air and as a producer to provide live coverage of Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon.

Outside of his on-air work, Zach writes for Penn State Athletics covering men’s hockey and lacrosse and has held summer internships with Israel Sports Radio, the Cape Cod Baseball League, and the Coastal Plain League.