Game Preview: Penn State vs. Rutgers
On Saturday night, Penn State men’s basketball will return to the Bryce Jordan Center at 4:30 p.m. to square off with Rutgers. The Nittany Lions are still seeking their first Big Ten win of the season, as they sit at 0-8 in conference play. The Scarlet Knights come into this game at 9-9 overall, with a 2-6 record in conference play.
Last time out
It has been a week between games for Penn State as the Nittany Lions fell 65-64 to Minnesota. Penn State had a chance to win it at the end, but Lamar Stevens could not get his final shot to fall. Stevens led Penn State with in the double-digits with 27 points, 17 more than Mike Watkins who finished the day with 10.
Rutgers played host to Nebraska on Monday and walked away with a 76-69 win. That was the Scarlet Knights second conference win of the season, since they beat Ohio State earlier this month.
Keys to the game
All season long, Penn State has been searching for some sort of consistency on offense. Too many times, a solid defensive effort by the Nittany Lions has been wasted by inept play on the other end of the court.
Penn State’s offense has its best results this season when the scoring has been a more balanced effort. Many games consist of Stevens carrying the load on offense and that has not been a recipe for success.
Rutgers is not a team Penn State can just expect to coast by, especially considering the Nittany Lions have fallen to the basement team in the Big Ten. As previously mentioned, Rutgers has impressive wins, so they pose a significant threat.
If Penn State has any sort of pride, they will come into this game with more intensity. Losing to Rutgers at home will be embarrassing for the Nittany Lions and, frankly, if they don’t win this game there is a real chance they don’t win a conference game at all this season.
Players to watch
The easy pick for Penn State would be Lamar Stevens. Pay attention, however, to Josh Reaves in this game. Reaves struggled last time out and is looked to as a leader on this team. For Penn State to have success on Saturday, they are going to need to get a good game from Reaves.
Penn State must pay attention to Geo Baker. Baker, a leader for Rutgers, is averaging 13.1 points per game and is their second leading scorer. Baker and Eugene Omoruyi are the only double-digit scorers for the Scarlet Knights, so if Penn State can slow these two down then they can limit the Rutgers offense.
What could happen
Will Penn State finally get their first Big Ten win and snap their six-game losing streak? This is their best chance to get a conference win, something they need with the tough stretch that lies ahead.
In front of a home crown, Penn State could come out strong and finally win a conference game this weekend. There is also the chance they put away this season without winning a conference game, just like their Pennsylvania counterparts, Pittsburgh, did a year ago.
Prediction: Penn State 68, Rutgers 60.
Jake Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.