Game Preview: Men’s Basketball vs. Ole Miss
The Penn State Nittany Lions received 10 votes in the AP Poll on Monday, following a 5-0 start to the season. They’ll look to continue their strong start against Ole Miss on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
This past Saturday, Penn State pulled off a second-half comeback win against Yale. Penn State struggled offensively, shooting 18.5% from the 3-point line and 33.3% from the field. However, the Nittany Lions overcame adversity and went on a 16-2 run in the final five minutes. Izaiah Brockington provided the spark for the Nittany Lions’ comeback off the bench, as the St. Bonaventure transfer led the team in scoring with 15 points in the game, 13 of which came in the second half.
Ole Miss started the season 4-0 but fell to 4-1 after their its ranked matchup of the year versus Memphis. The Rebels lost the game 87-86, which is impressive considering the talent that Memphis has this year. Memphis was missing its star player James Wiseman, but nonetheless, this was a remarkable performance for Ole Miss.
Keys to the game for Penn State
After Penn State’s strong start to the season, it almost took a step back in a close game to Yale. But the comeback affirms the idea that Penn State is a second-half team. In each of their past four games, the Nittany Lions have led by a margin of eight points or fewer at the half. Penn State will look to start fast against Ole Miss rather than keeping the game close or playing catchup.
We saw in the last game against Yale that Penn State is able to fight back when the shots aren’t falling. Penn State’s depth helped in this situation, as Curtis Jones and Izaiah Brockington provided valuable minutes off the bench. The Nittany Lions will need to get their groove back against Ole Miss by continuing great ball movement and running their offense through Lamar Stevens. It seems that when Stevens plays well, he ignites Penn State’s offense beyond its usual limits.
Keys to the game for Ole Miss
Ole Miss thrived defensively in its first four games by allowing just 31.9% shooting. This is fourth in the nation and best in the SEC. These stats dropped after facing a talented Memphis squad, but don’t overlook the Ole Miss defense. The Rebels could give Penn State some problems if they limit Stevens’ touches and identify shooters around the perimeter.
Ole Miss has several players that can contribute offensively. The Rebels’ leading scorer changes almost every game between Breein Tyree, K.J. Buffen and Devontae Shuler. Last game, Ole Miss returned Blake Hinson. In his first game of the season back from injury, he scored 15 points off the bench against Memphis. He’s going to continue to provide for Ole Miss against Penn State after an impressive freshman season last year.
Ole Miss will be hungry for a win after the tough loss to Memphis. Penn State will look to learn from its mistakes against Yale and gain its offensive firepower back. Ultimately, Penn State will prevail in a thriller of an SEC-Big Ten matchup thanks to superior shooting and better depth.
Prediction: Penn State 78, Ole Miss 72
Austin Groft is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.