Penn State vs. Nebraska Preview
Ryan Berti, Jesse Finver, and Tom Shively break down Thursday's matchup between Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Hoping to redeem themselves from their last meeting with the Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-14, 6-9 Big Ten), the Penn State Nittany Lions (14-13, 5-9 Big Ten) look to continue their two-game win streak at home this Thursday.
In front of the Blue and White faithful, Penn State, No. 11 within the Big Ten, aims to hand Nebraska their third straight loss, while also righting their wrongs from their last meeting. Both teams find themselves in similar situations when these two teams last faced off, as Penn State comes in still rolling from an upset win over a formidable Big Ten opponent while Nebraska is looking to put themselves back on the path to success.
While the Nittany Lions are showing resilience and heart after their surprising victories against Indiana and Iowa, the Cornhuskers are still looking to stabilize their consistency in hopes of a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) bid. The Cornhuskers are coming off of a close but ugly 65-62 loss to Ohio State. While the Nittany Lions are making waves amongst their Big Ten counterparts, they still are finding trouble with consistency on both sides of the ball.
The keys to Nebraska’s success is their offensive output and Andrew White III’s production. Against Ohio State, Nebraska went 9-35 from beyond the arc and shot a season-low 27.1 percent from the field. Although both teams combined for only four buckets in the first 24 possessions, Nebraska needs to narrow in on accuracy and proficiency on the offensive side of the ball if they want to put themselves back on the winning path. While Nebraska’s offense is in need of an adjustment, White just needs to continue to play his game. Against Ohio State, he had 14 points and made a pivotal three-pointer with 54 seconds left to get Nebraska back into the game. Since White and Nebraska last faced Penn State, White was leading his team with 16.9 points per game, but less than two weeks later, he has an improved split of 17.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Cornhusker’s X factors are Shavon Shields, Nebraska’s second-leading scorer, and Ed Morrow, a freshman forward. The two are both battling injuries that sidelined them for four games, as their current statuses for this week’s upcoming game are questionable. If Shields can get healthy by Thursday, then the Cornhuskers offense will drastically improve and throw a new element to the Nittany Lion’s defense.
If Penn State plays their cards right, they can put another tally in the win column after they face Nebraska. Those cards being the defensive success with the zone and the connection seen throughout the offense. As Rutgers began to chip away at Penn State’s game plan, Pat Chambers threw the other team for a loop with his switch to zone defense, which helped confuse the Scarlet Knight offense. While the Blue and White’s defense held Rutgers to 58 points, Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor connected on the offensive side of the ball. Garner scored 20 points and four assists, while Taylor managed yet another double-double with his 17 points and 14 rebounds.
The Nittany Lion’s X factor lies in the production of Josh Reaves. This upcoming game will be his third game back after missing six consecutive games due to illness. He is second on the team in both blocks (17) and steals (24). By this Thursday, the cobwebs should be cleared and expect Reaves to be a dominating defensive force.
With another neck and neck game on the horizon, the Penn State Nittany Lions are at home this Thursday to face-off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Madeleine Balestrier is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.