Matthew O'Haren- USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Look for First Conference Win Against Nebraska

Game: Nebraska (9-8, 1-4 Big Ten) at Penn State  (9-10, 0-6 Big Ten)

Date: January 23, 2014

Time: 8:00 p.m. EST


Thursday night’s game at the Bryce Jordan Center features two teams that are both struggling this season, especially in conference play. The Penn State Nittany Lions are stuck in the middle of a six-game losing streak and have yet to record a win in the Big Ten. The Nebraska Cornhuskers enter the contest having lost five of their last six games and have earned just one conference win.

The Nittany Lions are taking the court for the first time since late-game mistakes cost them a heartbreaking defeat at Purdue on Saturday. Penn State held a three-point lead with less than 20 seconds remaining but lost the game in regulation by one point. Poor, mistake-ridden play, especially late in games, has plagued head coach Patrick Chambers’ team all season. In their six conference losses, the Nittany Lions have held second-half leads in four of them.

Matthew O’Haren- USA TODAY Sports

Penn State ranks 77th in the nation, averaging 76.1 points a game. Most of those points come from the dangerous backcourt duo of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill. Newbill currently leads the team with 17.3 points a game. Frazier is second on the team with 16.8 points a game. Frazier had a monster game on Saturday, pouring in 19 points, dishing out five assists and collecting 10 rebounds. Newbill has had trouble getting started lately, usually waiting until after halftime to come alive. Against Nebraska, he’ll look to get hot early.

When it comes to play in the paint, Penn State has struggled with both scoring down low and rebounding. The Nittany Lions rank 180th in the nation in total rebounding. In their last outing against the Boilermakers, the Nittany Lions were controlled down low and outrebounded 44-33.

Ross Travis is the most complete post player for Penn State, leading the team with 7.7 rebounds per game and averaging 10.7 points a game. Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor also contribute in the paint. The Nittany Lions do possess a seven-footer in SMU transfer Jordan Dickerson, but he has yet to make much of an impact.

Freshman guard Graham Woodward has provided a spark off the bench recently with his ability to knock it down from long-range.

Like the Nittany Lions, the Cornhuskers have had trouble in conference play, though they are coming off a huge upset victory over Ohio State. For the season, Nebraska’s numbers are not good, ranking near the bottom of the country in points per game, rebounds per game. The Cornhuskers and shooting just 43 percent from the field, though they did shoot 50 percent in the victory against the Buckeyes.

Nebraska is led on offense by Terran Petteway, who averages 17.4 points a game. He is second on the team, shooting 36 percent from behind the arc and is third on the team with 5.3 rebounds a game. Petteway is a good combo guard who can also play at the forward position. He’ll be a matchup problem for the Nittany Lions.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The good news for Penn State in this one is that behind Petteway, there isn’t a whole lot of firepower. Shavon Shields is averaging 11.4 points a game, while Deverell Biggs is third on the team with 10 points a game. Shields did put up 18 points and nine rebounds in his last game.

This game probably won’t be the prettiest game, as it could turn into a low-scoring, defensive affair. If Penn Sate get’s solid play throughout from Fazier and Newbill, then the Nittany Lions should be looking at their first Big Ten win of the season.

Follow VBR Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter

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Tags: Basketball Penn State Nittany Lions

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