UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After the first five games of the season, the Penn State basketball team finds themselves in last place in the Big Ten standings.
Currently, the Nittany Lions (2-3) have lost back-to-back games to talented teams in the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils and No. 24 Cincinnati Bearcats.
Penn State gave the Blue Devils a fight to the finish, only losing 78-68. Penn State was able to keep pace with Duke because of key injuries to some of their star players.
Duke sophomore forward Chase Jeter left the game after the first six minutes and did not return due to injury. The Blue Devils were also without star freshmen Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles.
Junior guard Grayson Allen was battling an injury as well, but the veteran finished with 35 minutes.
One player that emerged from the game against Duke was freshman guard Tony Carr. The Philadelphia native was on the court for 36 minutes and dropped 20 points, continuing to show a strong court presence.
The former four-star high school recruit is shining as the star he was projected to be. Carr and freshman forward Lamar Stevens are forming a nice tandem together early on as first year players.
Carr and Stevens average 14.8 and 14.4 points per game behind junior forward Shep Garner, who is posting 16 points per game.
The Nittany Lions will look to bounce back against the (1-2) Colgate Raiders Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center after suffering a 21-point blowout to the Bearcats in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tip Off Consolation.
Junior guard Sean O’Brien, who leads the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game, is the commander of the Raiders on the court. O’Brien will draw an intriguing matchups with Carr and Garner, as he will be challenged to put up points for Colgate.
One of Penn State’s biggest weaknesses is team rebounding and it was exposed by Cincinnati who grabbed 40 off the glass to Penn State’s 26. Colgate averages 35 rebounds per game, while the Nittany Lions bring down 31.8 per game.
Unlike Cincinnati, Colgate does not own a sizable height advantage over Penn State. Leading rebounders freshman forward Will Rayman and sophomore forward Malcom Regisford are only 6’8”.
Freshman forward Mike Watkins is Penn State’s strongest rebounder, but only hauls in 6.6 per game. Watkins is a monster on defense where he has posted three blocks per contest.
Another facet of the game that Penn State will have to correct is their three-point shooting. The Nittany Lions convert 33 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is ranked 211th in the NCAA.
The Nittany Lions can easily take home the victory against the Raiders, but they must play fundamentally sound. The Raiders do not overwhelm their opponents with depth, but they are tough because they can snag rebounds and convert field goals at a high rate.
Head coach Pat Chambers and Penn State must utilize their impressive backcourt to their advantage. Carr and Garner can handle the scoring for the Nittany Lions, as well as dish the rock to keep Colgate guessing on defense.
The keys to the game will be to stop O’Brien and force tough shots to prevent the Raiders from developing momentum, and outrebound Colgate to seal the deal and improve to (3-3).
Zach Seyko is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communication arts & sciences. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.