MBB Game Preview: Montana
Penn State started the season with a lot of hype as this year seemed to be the year that head coach Patrick Chambers would lead the Nittany Lions back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. Through the first two games, they seem to be living up to the hype with a pair of impressive double digit wins against smaller conference opponents.
Point guard Tony Carr has impressed thus far for the Nittany Lions as he has scored 53 points on 42.4 percent shooting from the floor in two games this season. The more impressive aspect to his year might be his passing as he has 14 assist to only three turnovers.
Penn State has struggled taking care of the ball as it has coughed the ball up 37 times in the early season, an unusually high number for a team that has been in control of its opening two games. The upcoming opponent Montana has excelled on forcing turnovers as Pittsburgh turned it over 19 times in an overtime road upset.
The Grizzlies lean heavily on their backcourt as Michael Oguine and Ahmad Rorie carried them to a victory over the Panthers. Rorie, the Oregon transfer, led the team in scoring last season and has kept it up this season with 39 points through the opening two games.
Oguine has also scored 39 points to begin the year, but 29 of those points came in his last game against Pittsburgh. His propensity for stepping it up in big games makes him a challenge for the Penn State defense.
Josh Reaves will be tasked with hounding the Montana backcourt as his quick hands, length and athleticism have allowed him to get nine steals and blocks combined. His work on the nation’s returning scorer Chris Clemons was admirable as Reaves forced him to take multiple contested shots in traffic.
Shep Garner struggled against Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday as he missed all seven of his 3-point attempts and failed to score. His shooting percentage is an abysmal 12.5 percent and he needs to break out soon or Penn State could struggle in future games.
Mike Watkins had a fantastic debut performance against the Knights as he scored 15 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor and blocked three shots. His presence in the post is huge as he alters numerous shots on the defensive end and is capable of scoring with his back to the basket in the post.
Fabijan Krslovic and James Akoh are Montana’s big men, but both have struggled asserting their dominance on the glass as they have accumulated a total of 12 rebounds in two games. For Montana to have any shot of pulling off the road upset for the second game in a row, one of the starting forwards needs to assert himself on the glass.
Lamar Stevens is the X-factor for the Nittany Lions as he is capable of stretching the floor with his jump shot, but has struggled holding onto the ball with nine turnovers to start the year. If he can play under control, Stevens gives the Nittany Lions another scoring option on the perimeter and in the post.
Penn State has too much talent on the perimeter and in the post to lose to Montana, but Rorie and Oguine will keep the game in single digits.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email email@example.com.