The best team in the B1G conference without a victory will host the Iowa Hawkeyes (15-9 overall, 4-7 B1G) Thursday night at 9:00pm (ESPNU). Thanks to Coach Pat Chambers’ turnout-related pledge to THON, Penn State (8-15, 0-11) may play in front of one of its biggest home crowds of the year. Begging to fill a 10,000 seat student section that has been largely empty this season, Chambers has put his money where his mouth for one of the Nittany Lions’ last chances at victory. By promising $10 per student whom attends, Chambers is on the hook for a maximum $100,000 donation to the student run dance marathon to benefit pediatric cancer. If the Lions can’t leave the floor as winners on Thursday night, at least the floor will be filled with 710 winners over the weekend.
THE LAST TIME OUT
The first time Penn State played Nebraska they choked at the end, missing key free throws down the stretch. Last time out, again against Nebraska, Penn State choked throughout the game shooting from the field instead. The turnover bug, which has haunted the team since its near flawless game against Ohio State (four turnovers total), crippled the Lions already struggling offense (13 vs Nebraska).
Early leads followed by double digit scoring droughts have plagued Penn State in B1G play. Worst yet injuries (beyond Tim Frazier), and more, are starting to catch up to the team and its lack of depth. Jermaine Marshall is clearly not himself and Brandon Taylor is either hurt, tired, struggling with his confidence, or all three. That being said, the team has had a few days off and hopefully will show up for what they realize is a winnable game.
ABOUT THE IOWA HAWKEYES
Iowa has played well this season even while losing four of their last six games; two of which were in overtime, the last being a double overtime loss at Wisconson. They are top 15 in the country in rebounds and top 20 in assists and team-leading scorer and rebounder Aaron White torched the Lions last time they played for 27 points. White’s season average is only 13.5, junior Roy Devyn Marble is second with 13.2 points per game.
THE MATCH UP
Iowa struggles at time shooting from the field, but their physical play makes up for their lack of touch; against Penn State, Iowa drew 26 personal fouls, forced 18 turnovers, and shot 39 free throws. That type of aforementioned physical play made up for the fact they were outshot by the Lions from three point range, the free throw line, and were held below their season average from field goal range.
If the Lions are going to win at all in 2013, this is their best chance to do so. Penn State needs Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill to show up and shoot consistently throughout the game. A third scorer (Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis, Sasa?) needs to get at least 15 points to support them. They need to limit the turnovers and personal fouls, and crash the boards.. Finally, if they are to be victorious, they need a loud and supportive Nittany Nation to pack the BJC, FTK, FTW.