The Nittany Lions return home to the Bryce Jordan Center, riding a 4 game losing streak, and back at .500 (8-8, 0-4) for the first time since December 5th. Tom Izzo’s 18th ranked MSU Spartans (14-3, 3-1) provide the opposition as PSU looks to snap the skid.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Penn State visited Purdue’s Mackey Arena on Sunday afternoon, falling 60-42. The Lions intensity was better than their 70-54 home loss against Northwestern, although that would not have been a huge accomplishment. The Lions offensive struggles continued, as they continued to find open looks, including several within 5 feet, that simply would not find the basket. Head Coach Patrick Chambers indicated he was pleased with the quality of the looks his offense was creating, but they need to find a way to finish those chances. Purdue was hardly impressive, but was able to do enough on the offensive end, and dodge enough bullets on the other side of the floor to win comfortably
ABOUT THE SPARTANS
You could take the green and white jerseys off of this squad, and still be able to tell it’s a Tom Izzo team. Tough on defense, lethal attacking the glass, and a physical, methodical, efficient offense. Izzo runs everything through his junior point guard Keith Appling. Appling averages over 13 points 4.6 assists, and just 2 turnovers per game. Freshman shooting guard Gary Harris is right behind Appling with 12.9 per game. Sparty has their typical high rebounding bigs in Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, who both average over 7 boards per game. All told, MSU ranks 31st nationally with over 39 rebounds per game.
Not that PSU’s earlier games have prevented less of a challenge, but MSU is exactly the type of team that has me cringing when Tim Frazier went down. They will pressure the ball as well as anyone PSU faces this season, and that is going to mean D.J. Newbill has to be at his best. Quality shots are going to be tough to come by, and Penn State will need to start hitting the bunnies they have not the last 2 games. Michigan State has played down to their opponents much of the season, but they still are the best coached team in the Big 10. Oh, and they have some talent too. PSU will hang around, but in the end, it won’t be that close. Sparty by 14.
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