Penn State vs. Miami (FL): Men’s Basketball Game Preview
After going 1-1 in the Emerald Coast Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, Penn State returns to the Bryce Jordan Center for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to take on Miami (FL) on Wednesday for a 9:15 p.m. showdown.
On Friday, the Nittany Lions fell to LSU in an overtime thriller, 68-63. However, they responded with a bounce-back win over Oregon State, 60-45, the following day.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry loved his team’s defense but is still looking for a complete 40 minutes on both ends.
“It goes back to how we play, but [Oregon State] should not have scored 40 on us,” Shrewsberry said. “We were up and thought the game was over, and there were eight minutes left on the clock.”
The Nittany Lions have been paced by the strong play of junior forward Seth Lundy and senior guard Sam Sessoms both are averaging 15.3 points per game, but this weekend saw the emergence of Siena transfer senior guard Jalen Pickett.
Pickett finished with a team-high 14 points and notched four treys in each game. The senior noted seeing the ball go in on free throws last weekend built his confidence. Pickett was not scared to shoot and showed it by nailing a 3-pointer from the edge of the center court logo.
While Pickett seemed to find his groove, Lundy struggled mightily. The junior finished the weekend with a shooting percentage of around 26 percent and shot 2-17 from deep.
Last year it became a theme when Lundy had trouble scoring it would affect his whole game, but Shrewsberry has seen a change.
“[Lundy] didn’t play well offensively, but he got the job defensively, so you’re always getting something from him,” Shrewsberry said. “If he can stay confident when he’s struggling and find ways to rebound and defend, I think he can still help us when he’s not having a great game shooting.”
The blue and white now turn their focus towards the visiting Hurricanes, who have a 4-3 record on the season. Have picked up wins over Canisius, Florida Atlantic, Florida A&M and North Texas.
Over the weekend, Miami went 1-2 at the ESPN Events Invitational, with a win over aforementioned North Texas and losses to Dayton and No. 10 Alabama.
While it was close in the first half, the Miami defense fell apart giving up 63 points in the final 20 minutes en route to an embarrassing 96-64 loss to the Crimson Tide.
It has not only been a defensive struggle at times but also offensive, specifically from beyond three. As a team, Miami is shooting 27 percent from beyond the arc and is averaging five threes per game.
Shrewsberry did not say much on the Hurricanes this week, but there will certainly be a point emphasis on stopping their scorers, similar to the LSU game.
Miami boasts three players averaging double-digit points per game: Kameron McGusty, Isaiah Wong and Charlie Moore.
McGusty, a former Oklahoma Sooner, transferred to Miami before the 2018-19 season. The sixth-year senior guard leads the team with 17.5 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game. Standing at 6-foot-5 he proves to be a handful for whoever is guarding him.
Wong spearheads the dangerous backcourt for the Hurricanes. This year he was named Preseason First-Team All-ACC and is currently averaging 15.6 points per contest.
The other half of the tandem is the senior journeyman in Moore. After starting at Cal, he went to Kansas, then spent a couple of years at DePaul before coming to Coral Gables. The Chicago, Illinois native is currently averaging 10.7 points a game in seven starts this season.
Penn State is 6-1 in its last seven Big Ten/ACC Challenge contests. Combine that with the way the Nittany Lions are playing at home and the recent struggles for Miami, it becomes 7-1 in the last eight.
Prediction: Penn State 70, Miami (FL) 63
Matthew Scalzo is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.