Game: Penn State (9-9, 0-5 Big Ten) at Purdue (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten)
Date: January 18, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
The Penn State Nittany Lions are still searching for their first Big Ten Conference win. Though three’s been a few close calls, the Nittany Lions have lost five straight games since beginning conference play. They are coming off an 80-67 defeat at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines in a game in which Penn State was never really every in the game. Purdue on the other hand, is coming off back-to-back wins against Nebraska and Illinois.
It’s been a struggle lately for the Nittany Lions, with inconsistent play and numerous mistakes dooming them in this run of defeats. They have been in most of the games, but always find a way to lose it in the end. In three of their last five losses, the Nittany Lions held second-half leads.
The Nittany Lions are led by the dangerous backcourt duo of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, though like the rest of the team, they’ve both had their struggles as of late. Newbill went through a two-game stretch against Minnesota and Illinois in which he scored just a total of seven points. Frazier made some mistakes and fouled out in back-to-back games against Minnesota and Indiana.
Despite the struggles, Newbill leads the team with 17.3 points a game. Frazier has averaged 16.7 points a game and leads the team with 6.5 assists per game. The duo will need to be in top form against the Boilermakers.
Penn State’s Ross Travis will need to be in top form in this game and control the area below the basket. Currently, he leads the Nittany Lions with 8.1 boards a game. Donovon Jack will also need to have a big game, especially on the glass, if the Nittany Lions want to pull off the road victory.
Recently, head coach Patrick Chambers has chosen to go with a smaller lineup, staring three guards. The third has been Geno Thorpe, who’s shown flashes of his talent this season. Though he’s averaging just 3.0 points per contest, he’s proven to be a spark in the Penn State starting lineup.
For the Boilermakers, they are led by the backcourt combination of Terone and Ronnie Johnson, who happen to be brothers. Terone, a senior, leads the team with 13.4 points a game, while Ronnie, a sophomore, contributes 11.5 a game. Down in the post, Purdue gets solid production from center A.J. Hammons, who is averaging 9.8 points a game with 69.9 rebounds. His seven-foot, 250-pound frame makes him a menacing presence in the paint.
The Penn State post players, namely Travis and Jack will have their hands full with the Boilermakers, who rank 29th in the nation, averaging just under 40 boards per game.
The Nittany Lions will be looking to avenge a 60-42 drubbing when they visited Mackey Arena last season. In fact, Penn State has lost in seven straight trips to Purdue, not winning there since the 2005-06 season.
Penn State definitely has a chance in this one, but its going to mean playing a complete game for the entire duration of the contest. The Nittany Lions have shown flashes of solid play this season, often jumping out to leads, only to squander it away in the second half.
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