Penn State vs. Purdue Preview

Story posted January 18, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

Penn State men’s basketball heads into their matchup against Purdue on a five-game losing streak. The Nittany Lions dropped their last contest against Michigan to fall to 0-5 in conference play. Purdue enters the game with momentum on their side, coming off back-to-back wins over Nebraska and Illinois. The Boilermakers have won their last three contests against the Nittany Lions, dating back to January 2012.

Statistically, Penn State outscores Purdue by a slim margin, 76.8 to 76.6 on average, but the Nittany Lions are overmatched in the rebounding category, 39.6 to 35.7. Neither team ranks in the top 100 in assists per game, or field-goal percentage.

The Boilermakers have tremendous depth, with 10 players averaging at least 12 minutes per game. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, only have eight players averaging at least 10 minutes per game, including John Johnson, who has only played in six contests.

Penn State’s attack is led by the talented backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill. Frazier scores 16.7 points per game for the Lions, while dishing out over half of the team’s assists. His backcourt mate, Newbill, averages 17.3 points per game, while pulling down over five rebounds per contest. Newly named starter, freshman guard, Geno Thorpe, averages just three points per game. Recently eligible transfer guard John Johnson, is averaging 10 points per game for the Lions.

Purdue’s backcourt matches up well with Penn State’s, as the Boilermakers are led by Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson. Senior guard, Terone Johnson, is the leading scorer for the Boilermakers, averaging 13.4 points per game. His sophomore partner, Ronnie Johnson, averages 11.5 points per game. The elder Johnson is 6-foot-4, matching up well with the equally sized Newbill. The younger Johnson is smaller and quicker, matching up well with the speedy guard, Frazier.

The Boilermakers have the edge in the frontcourt battle, deploying sophomore center A.J. Hammons and forwards Basil Smotherman and Errick Peck. The young center, Hammons, averages nearly 10 points per game, while pulling down nearly seven boards on average. Smotherman shoots 62.7 percent from the floor, while averaging more than six points per game. Peck adds solid depth and toughness off the bench for the Boilermakers.

The Nittany Lions frontcourt lacks the depth and size needed to be a factor in Big Ten basketball. Ross Travis leads the way in the frontcourt, averaging 10.9 points per game and just over eight rebounds per game. Donovon Jack starts at center for the Nittany Lions, but pulls down less than four rebounds per game. Brandon Taylor, who has recently came off the bench, rounds out the key contributors in the frontcourt for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions will look to pick up their first Big Ten win of the season. A win for the Lions would also put them above .500 on the season. Purdue will try to pick up their third Big Ten win, and 13th win overall, against the Nittany Lions on Saturday.

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Tony Ding)