Penn State vs. Minnesota Preview

Story posted January 4, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Gross

Penn State looks to avoid its first three-game skid of the season as they host Minnesota on Tuesday. With both teams struggling, a victory could give the winning side some momentum early on in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center for the first time in 31 days.

After completing a successful non-conference slate, the Nittany Lions (9-6, 0-2 Big Ten) are losers of two straight, including a 23-point drubbing at the hands of Michigan. The Wolverines knocked down 14 three-pointers in that game, highlighting Penn State’s inability to defend the perimeter.

The Golden Gophers’ (6-8, 0-2 Big Ten) non-conference struggles have carried over to Big Ten play thus far. Richard Pitino’s squad is coming off a competitive, eight-point loss to No. 1 Michigan State.

The home-side is led by stretch-forward Brandon Taylor (16.2 points per game) and guard Shep Garner (14.3 points per game). Taylor has been the most consistent scorer for the Nittany Lions this season and became the newest member of the 1,000 point club after scoring 18 points against Michigan. Strong perimeter play has been the calling-card for the Lions this season, and that is not by choice. All three of Penn State’s primary post players: Jordan Dickerson, Donovan Jack, and Julian Moore, lack an offensive game. A player to look out for is Josh Reaves. The freshman phenom from Oak Hill Academy can do it all, especially in transition. His highlight-reel dunks can spark his team and silence opposing fans.

The Gophers feature four double-digit scorers, including forward Joey King. The 6-9 senior averages 12.8 points per game and is shooting at a 44 percent clip from beyond the arc. King, along with guard Carlo Morris, will present a major threat to Penn State’s subpar perimeter defense. Minnesota is ranked No. 186 in scoring defense, letting up 72.6 points per game. Even though the Nittany Lions are not a dominant offensive team, the visitors will have to limit scoring to ensure victory.

This one has all the makings of a classic Big Ten slugfest. Expect both teams to start off slowly and for the score to remain close from tip-off to the final buzzer. With students on break, the Bryce Jordan Center will not offer much of a home-court advantage. While it doesn’t look like this game will turn into a shootout, three-point shooting could prove to be the difference. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Jonathan Gross is a freshman double-majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics. To contact him, email jwg5468@psu.edu.