Penn State Looks to Snap Skid Against Maryland
For the third time in the past four games, the Penn State Nittany Lions seek their second Big Ten road victory and snap a three-game losing streak by taking on the Maryland Terrapins.
In true road games this season, Penn State has gone 1-6, with their lone win against then-No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini in December. Since then, they have dropped five-straight trips away from the Bryce Jordan Center, and the numbers back it up.
The team gets outscored by 7.7 points per game. The main culprit is how the team shoots in the opposition’s gym, going 42.4% from the floor and 34.5% from three; well below their home averages of 49.2% field goal percentage and 41.3% from downtown.
A good chunk of the team’s struggles comes from the recent skid. In losses to the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Wisconsin Badgers, the team has failed to surpass the 70-point mark in regulation, with the last matchup against the Badgers had the Nittany Lions score 74 points in the overtime loss.
The defense has taken a hit over the past three games. Opponents are hitting 44% of their shots and 11 3-pointers per game, totaling up to 77 points per game.
SCOUTING THE OTHER SIDE
Flipping to the other side of the court, the Maryland Terrapins, who are receiving votes in the AP Top-25 poll. The team has won six out of their last nine games after a tough stretch to start the 2023 calendar year.
With Penn State, home court advantage has been the strength of the team’s 14-10 record. The same goes for the Terrapins.
Maryland has won nine straight conference games in the XFINITY Center, tying a program record set back in 2014-2015. This season, they find themselves 12-1 at home, with their lone loss coming to then No. 7 UCLA Bruins.
Leading the charge for the Terps is graduate student guard Jahmir Young, who leads the team with 16.1 points per game and 32 steals. However, when it comes to conference play, Young steps up to the competition.
Averaging 18.2 points per game in Big Ten play, he ranks eighth among league players in that category and third in steals with 25. This is the x-factor in the Terrapins success.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The first part seems easier with what coach Micah Shrewsberry wants to build his culture around: defense.
The recent losing streak has stemmed from the lack of defensive prowess that the team was built upon last season. The team has given up 77 points per game in the last three games, with a plethora of opposing players scoring more that 15 points each.
Fortunately for Maryland, the Terrapins average over 77 points per game in wins this season, while also allowing 59.2 points per game. In addition, their defense is holding teams to under 40% from the floor and under 30% from beyond the arc.
Another big factor is about cleaning the glass for a Nittany Lion squad who struggles to grab boards on the offensive side. Ranking 360 out of the 363 Division I teams, Penn State averages 16.2% of their rebounds on the backcourt glass.
As for Maryland, they are 12-4 when out-rebounding opponents. They have lost 50% of their games when the rebound margin is not in their favor, which could provide hope for the Nittany Lions considering the height matchups are equal heading into Saturday’s contest.
One final thing is more depth scoring, specifically a fourth option for the Nittany Lions. The main three scorers consist of guards Jalen Pickett and Andrew Funk and forward Seth Lundy.
Having a consistent fourth option like guard Camren Wynter or a potential riser in forward Mikey Henn can give a boost for the Nittany Lions to end this skid.
Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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Third Year / Broadcast Journalism