Penn State vs. Rutgers Preview
David Arroyo,Tom Shively, Jon Grss, and Joe Murphy preview this weekend's matchup between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Coming off a 79-75 shocker over No. 4 Iowa, the second top-five win in the Pat Chambers era and the second win over a ranked opponent in as many home games, Penn State looks to string together back-to-back conference victories for the first time this year. The Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) will avoid the THON weekend festivities as they head east to face Rutgers (6-20, 0-13), the only remaining winless team in the Big Ten.
Brandon Taylor continues to shine for Penn State, scoring 18 points in the upset win on Wednesday to push his team-leading scoring average up to 16.5 ppg. He has scored in double figures in every conference game this season.
Donovon Jack had the game of his career against Iowa, scoring 19 points on 8 of 9 from the field as well as registering two blocks.
The Scarlet Knights will have to find alternate ways to score without leading scorer Corey Sanders, who was suspended for two weeks following a violation of team rules. Second leading scorer and leading rebounder DJ Foreman has also missed most of the season, only playing in seven games due to a violation of team rules as well.
Mike Williams is the leading eligible scorer at 12.2 ppg. Freshman Jonathan Laurent has stepped up as well, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 boards in a loss at Illinois.
Rutgers got the better of Penn State last year in Piscataway 50-46 for one of their only two conference wins of the season. The Lions returned the favor three weeks later with a blowout win at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Three-point shooting will be at a premium in this matchup as Penn State and Rutgers are the two worst teams in the Big Ten when it comes to the long ball. Rutgers shoots at a 30.5 percent clip while Penn State comes in at 29.5 percent. The Lions were able to get their three-pointers going early against Iowa as they hit eight in the first half and 10 on the game, which really contributed to confidence down the stretch.
The Scarlet Knights have been torched on defense all season, giving up a conference-worst 80.1 ppg including over 100 twice at home. They have yielded under 70 points only once in conference play, an 11-point loss at Michigan.
Prediction: Penn State 55, Rutgers 45
The Lions are riding high after a win over Iowa, and the momentum will continue into a relatively painless win over the Scarlet Knights. The shooting woes will continue for both teams, but Penn State will make a few more shots in crunch time. Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner will both score in double figures, and the Nittany Lions will force 20+ turnovers from a Rutgers team that carries a 13.6 turnovers per game average.
Tip off is set for 1 PM and can be seen on ESPNU.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @t_shives.