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Penn State men’s basketball hosts Lafayette in post-Thanksgiving duel

Story posted November 23, 2022 in

A little less than 24 hours after indulging in Thanksgiving dishes, Penn State is back at its home court and preparing to take on Lafayette in a Black Friday showdown.

The 5-1 Nittany Lions are coming off of a nice four-day break following their trip down south for the Charleston Classic. Penn State fared well against the stiff competition faced in the tournament, finishing 2-1 with its only loss coming to Virginia Tech by a two-point margin.

“It was a good chance for us to play some really good teams,” head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “I thought we played really hard.”

In their final outing of the classic, the blue and white took care of Colorado State, a No. 6 seed from last year’s NCAA tournament. In the triumphant 68-56 victory, Penn State jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and kept a foot on the gas the rest of the way.

The Nittany Lions’ defense set the tone throughout the contest, holding the Rams to a mere 32.8 percent shooting mark from the field, as well as 20% from deep.

“I thought our defense made strides,” Shrewsberry said. “I like where we are right now.”

One major piece of that dominant defensive effort was the larger than life presence of freshman forward Kebba Njie, who made the first start of his collegiate career against Colorado State.

The highly touted newcomer had a pretty quiet night on the offensive side of the ball with just a pair of field goals, but was very active on the defensive side of the ball for an undersized team in need of his near seven-foot frame.

Njie has received high praise from coaches and teammates alike ever since stepping foot in Happy Valley, and having a start under his belt will only further his development as a rising star in the program.

On the offensive side of the ball, Penn State had somewhat of an uncharacteristic night from beyond the arc, making just 9-of-28 shots from deep. However, the Nittany Lions’ wide distribution of scoring threats found ways to create shots when the long ball wasn’t falling.

As per usual, seniors Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy led the way in terms of points, combining for a total of 33 on the afternoon. The two captains took a high volume of shots, but rang the bell when the blue and white needed it the very most.

With the Nittany Lions finding all sorts of ways to win, the struggling Lafayette Leopards will have a lot on their hands on Friday night.

Lafayette currently sits at 1-5, losing three straight contests to open up the season. Most recently, the Leopards fell in overtime to the University of Pennsylvania by a score of 74-68.

The primary struggles for Lafayette have come on the offensive side of the ball, averaging just 61 points per game with a season-high mark of 68.

Leading the way offensively for the Leopards is senior forward Leo O’Boyle, who is averaging 13.5 points per game on the season. The Scranton, PA native has been on a tear over the last three games, highlighted by a 22-point effort against UMBC.

Despite the clear struggles of Penn State’s opposition in its return to the Bryce Jordan Center, Shrewsberry only wanted his team to think about how they could improve their own play throughout the week.

“We didn’t do anything with Lafayette, we talked about ourselves,” Shrewsberry said. “How can we get better offensively and defensively?”

The Nittany Lions and Leopards will tip things off at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Plus, with one team looking to stay hot and the other trying to turn its season around.

Grant Sheets is a sophomore majoring in public relations. To contact him, please email gcs5231@psu.edu.