Penn State vs. LSU: Men’s Basketball Game Preview
The weather continuously drops in State College, but where Penn State is flying to will have the heat cranked, literally and metaphorically.
The Nittany Lions travel to Niceville, Florida, to take on the LSU Tigers in the second round of the Emerald Coast Classic. The first round was last week, when the blue and white took down the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers 74-59 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Nov. 18.
Last time out, Penn State took down the previously undefeated Cornell Big Red 85-74. Junior forward Seth Lundy led the charge with 23 points on 9-13 shooting from the floor, followed by senior guard Sam Sessoms with 22 points and four assists, and senior guard Jalen Pickett with 15 points — 11 of which came in the second half.
Despite averaging a double-double on the season thus far, senior forward John Harar did not have one, but he finished the game with seven points and 12 boards.
As for Myles Dread, he continues to struggle early on, as he ended the game with five points on the night with 1-6 shooting, all from beyond the arc.
The team made a tying record 15 3-pointers in a single game. During the last four minutes of the game, Cornell only converted one shot from the floor, as Penn State kept distancing itself away on the scoreboard as part of a 21-7 run to end the game.
The Big Red found themselves only shooting 37.9% from the field and 28.1% from the perimeter.
Their leading scorer, senior guard Sarju Patel, had 15 points on 3-4 shooting from downtown. Their next leading scorer came off the bench, as guard Nazir Williams finished with 14 points while going 6-6 at the charity stripe.
However, the blue and white now turns its sights toward upcoming SEC foe, LSU.
“[LSU] is a big, long, aggressive team. Hopefully [we] packed [our] hard hats because we need them,” coach Micah Shrewsberry said.
Shrewsberry acknowledged how tough coach Will Wade’s Tigers are, and looking at the height comparisons, it’s no secret why.
Their five starters tower over Penn State’s starters, especially seven-foot center Efton Reid. Reid is averaging 10.2 points per game on 61.5% shooting.
The player to watch for, though, is forward Darius Days, who leads the team with 19.2 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. His sheer size at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds makes him a physical four heading down the lane and a tough body to box out for rebounds.
In the backcourt, Xavier Pinson, the Missouri transfer, has seen recent success in Baton Rouge. Averaging 10 points per game for Wade, Pinson brings agility and quickness to his game, which can create separation and open the lanes for opportunities to go to the rack or dish it out for a three.
LSU currently stands at 5-0 this season but looking at its wins tells a different story. The Tigers did blowout UL Monroe by 62 points, but LSU has yet to face strong competition.
The only opponent that made the tournament last season was the Liberty Flames, and while Liberty put up a fight, the Tigers pulled away at the final seconds to secure the win.
Penn State is still trying to mesh the old core with the new core. Over the course of four games this season, the team gets closer with each ticking second, but improvements still need to be made.
LSU has a huge advantage in size, chemistry and agility. If it can find crafty ways to get past the Penn State defense, the Tigers will have a field day in Florida.
If Penn State plays a clean game and shoots well, there is a chance it moves on, but if one mistake is exposed, LSU will roll to an easy victory.
Prediciton: LSU 87, Penn State 63
Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com.