Penn State Men’s Basketball Battles Michigan State in Big Ten Opener
After coming up just short against Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten challenge, Penn State turns its attention to a showdown with the Michigan State Spartans to open conference play.
Both teams are coming off losses to tough opponents and are looking to turn the tide. The Spartans carry a record of 5-4 while the Nittany Lions sit at 6-2.
“When you’re coaching in the Big Ten, every game is a challenge,” head coach Micah Shrewsberry said.
Last season, the two teams split their two games with the home team winning both times. Penn State currently sits at 4-0 at home this season and will look to remain undefeated.
Michigan State has had a tough schedule to start with the season with games against top-ranked opponents such as Gonzaga, Kentucky and Alabama.
The Spartans were able to get a big win over Kentucky, but have lost their last two contests against Notre Dame and Northwestern. These losses were enough to push them outside the Top 25 rankings.
Michigan State has been led by senior guard Tyson Walker who averages 14.4 points per game. Walker has been tremendous this season and will look to attack against a tough Nittany Lions defense.
Another key player for the Spartans will be senior forward Joey Hauser. Hauser is averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He will have to play big in the absence of forward Malik Hall who is out with a foot injury.
On the other side, Penn State has had a great start to the year, but Coach Shrewsberry and his squad aren’t satisfied quite yet.
They have been lethal on both ends of the court and are just a few plays short of being a perfect 8-0 to start the season. Their two losses include a two-point loss to Virginia Tech at a neutral site and a double overtime loss to Clemson.
The recipe for success has been the three-pointer and gritty defense. The Nittany Lions lead the nation in three-pointers made per game at 12.1 and have held opponents to under 70 points in all but one game.
Leading the charge for Penn State is Preseason All-Big Ten Team selection Jalen Pickett. He is averaging 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game this season. His 7.6 assists ranks fifth in the nation.
Pickett has been all over the court for the Nittany Lions not only as a scorer, but as a facilitator and a leader as well. He has mentored players such as Kebba Njie and Kanye Clary who continue to grow as freshmen for Penn State.
Seth Lundy has had a solid campaign to start the season and his defensive success is turning into offensive success this year. Lundy is known for his on-ball clamps, but he has scored 15 or more points in the last three games and averages a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game.
Transfers Andrew Funk and Cam Wynter have provided versatility to this lineup that is improved on both ends of the court. Funk brings a sharpshooting mentality and Wynter brings toughness and suffocating defense that has Coach Shrewsberry excited for Big Ten play.
Penn State looks to win its Big Ten opener for the first time since the 2017-18 season as they host the Spartans in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions will need to shut down the Spartans offense and have another stellar shooting performance if they want to start conference play with a bang.
This is a big contest for Penn State as they need to get a win for momentum heading into a ranked matchup against Illinois on Saturday.
Penn State urges their fanbase to come support them in this huge game. Coach Shrewsberry and his crew take the court at 6:30 p.m. and look to improve to 7-2 on the season.
Thomas English is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!