MBB Game Preview: NC State
Before the Nittany Lions take on the NC State Wolfpack in the Bryce Jordan Center, Joe Murphy, David Hadar, Ben Ferree and Brian McLaughlin break down what to expect between these two teams.
After demolishing Oral Roberts over Thanksgiving break, Penn State is off to its best start in nearly 10 years, tallying a 6-1 record heading into a highly contested showdown with NC State in the always competitive ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Nittany Lion duo of sophomore guard Tony Carr and sophomore forward Lamar Stevens have given the Nittany Lion faithful a lot to look forward to in the upcoming weeks, and years for that matter, with their performances over the past few games.
Carr is averaging 20 points per game and Stevens is averaging just under 15 points per game. Carr is also shooting 65 percent from 3-point range.
The Nittany Lions have found success in assists and blocks as they rank in the top 10 in college basketball in both categories. The Nittany Lions have gathered up 78 steals, ranking them fourth in the nation. They have also blocked 42 shots, ranking them at eighth in the nation.
The NC State Wolfpack enter the game with a record of 5-2, with the two losses coming against Northern Iowa and Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. However, the Wolfpack did upset the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats 90-84 last Wednesday and caused Arizona’s season to spiral very early.
Baylor graduate transfer Allerik Freeman is leading the Wolfpack in minutes played and scoring, totaling 111 points in his first seven games. Junior guard Torin Dorn is also having a solid start to the 2017-2018 season, averaging just under 14 points per game.
Freshman guard Braxton Beverly and Freeman have big-play capabilities as they accumulated nearly 50 percent of the team’s points in the upset win over the Wildcats. Freeman led the way with 24 points while Beverly added 20.
NC State’s seven-footer Omer Yurtseven is a young sophomore with raw talent and can be a force in the paint. The Yurtseven versus sophomore forward Mike Watkins matchup could be an intriguing one as Watkins is notoriously known for blocking a number of shots throughout the course of a game.
Senior guard Shep Garner has been struggling for the past two games and has been 4 of 14 from 3-point range. It will be crucial for him and Carr to step up in their first true away game of the season.
Watkins has also been having a solid start to his 2017-2018 campaign. His ability to fight through defenders in the paint and score is a large component of Penn State’s early success. Not to mention that he is averaging roughly three blocks per game and is an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses looking to drive to the rim.
Both the Nittany Lions and Wolfpack are neck and neck when it comes to points per game. The Nittany Lions are averaging 82 points per game and Wolfpack are averaging 81.3 points per game.
The X-factor in this game will be the Nittany Lion defense. They played a lot of man to man defense while also pressing an electric No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies team that almost squandered its large lead against the Nittany Lions.
If the Nittany Lions can play with that same intensity they showed against a top-ranked team in Texas A&M, expect them to come out victorious, setting the tone for Big Ten conference play.
Tipoff between the Nittany Lions and Wolfpack is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.
Christopher Hess is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.