Game Preview: Penn State vs. Georgetown
Host Dale Ostrander and analysts Ben Geller and Josh Portney recap Penn State's win against the Wagner Seahawks and make their predictions for the team's Thursday night matchup at Georgetown:
The Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0) have their first test of the season as they head to Washington, D.C., to take on the Georgetown Hoyas (2-0) Thursday night at Capital One Arena as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series between the Big Ten and the Big East conferences.
With both teams projected to be on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament this year, the outcome of this game could prove which team deserves a bid and which team does not.
Things to watch
Penn State senior Lamar Stevens, the top returning scorer and rebounder in the conference, will look to prove that he can perform under pressure on a big stage. He averaged 15 points and six boards in the first two games of the season. The ball will certainly be in his hands if the game is as close as expected.
Stevens’ right-hand man will be senior big man Mike Watkins, whose talent finally seems to be coming to fruition after constant injury concerns in previous seasons. Nearly averaging a double-double after two games with 9.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game, Watkins has been a force in the paint and is constantly drawing double-teams to leave shooters open outside.
The main issue with the Nittany Lions is that shooting is definitely a concern after two games. The team has a 59.6 free throw percentage so far, and Stevens has only made two of his seven attempts from downtown.
Georgetown will be led by 7-foot senior Omer Yurtseven, who is averaging 18.5 points and 13.5 boards through two games. The big man is tough to stop and risky to foul, as he has knocked down 82% of his free throws so far. And when he gets double-covered, he can throw it out to sophomore Mac McClung, the YouTube sensation who made a name for himself in high school for his highlight-worthy dunks at only 6 feet 2 inches tall.
Keys to the game
For Penn State, the question will be if Stevens’ supporting cast will be able to keep up. The presence of Watkins and senior John Harrar down low should draw defenders away from the perimeter, so it will be up to the guards to knock down jumpers and make plays outside. Sophomores Myles Dread and Myreon Jones seem to be the most dependable from the group so far, but freshman Seth Lundy has exceeded expectations off the bench, averaging 7.5 points and 5 rebounds per game in under 15 minutes of play.
Georgetown should play to its strengths and force Penn State to play its weaknesses. Limiting Watkins and forcing him to pass outside could be a defensive recipe for success for the Hoyas, given the early shooting struggles for the Nittany Lions. On offense, Georgetown will have to trust its leaders in Yurtseven, McClung and sophomore guard James Akinjo. All three are averaging double digits in points so far, and McClung and Akinjo are both perfect from the charity stripe.
These teams match up well in this pivotal early-season game. The score should be close all the way through, but the higher-level talent of the Hoyas should give them the close victory. Statistically, the teams are close, but Georgetown is almost 20% better from the line.
Prediction: Georgetown 70, Penn State 65
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.