Game: Purdue (13-8, 3-5 Big Ten) at Penn State (11-10, 2-6 Big Ten)
Date: February 2, 2014
Time: 11:30 a.m. EST
TV: Big Ten Network
Things have quickly started to look up for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After losing its first six conference games, Penn State has now won two in a row. The most recent victory came in a thrilling 71-70 overtime victory at Ohio State. The Nittany Lions, while probably still fired up after that victory, have to get focused and ready to take on the last team they lost to. The Purdue Boilermakers come to the Bryce Jordan center for an early tip-off on Super Bowl Sunday.
Penn State’s last loss came on January 18th at the hands of the Boilermakes in West Lafeyette. That game was one the Nittany Lions will surely want to forget. Holding a three-point lead with under 20 seconds remaining, Penn State made mistakes and was unable to close out the game, getting beat 65-64. In that game, the Nittany Lions got a fantastic performance from point guard Tim Frazier, who poured in 19 points and made 10 rebounds and added five assists. Fellow guard D.J. Newbill, who was the hero Wednesday night against Ohio State, also had a good game at Purdue. Against the Boilermakers, he scored 17 points and also added 10 rebounds.
Newbill will look to continue his momentum from Wednesday’s game where he scored 25 points against the Buckeyes.
Two players who will be key for the Nittany Lions in this one are Brandon Taylor and Graham Woodward. Taylor put up 19 points on Wednesday and made four three-pointers. Woodward, a freshman guard, has started the past two games and can be a good source of production, especially from behind the arc.
Since beating the Nittany Lions, Purdue has gone the opposite way, losing its last three games, though two of the losses came against ranked opponents in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Purdue, while not the best offensive team, ranking 258th in field goal percentage, stays in games thanks to the ability to rebound. The Boilermakers rank 19th in the nation, averaging just under 40 boards per game. Seven-foot center A.J. Hammons controls things down low. He grabs 6.9 rebounds a game and also scores 10.1 points. Hammons causes problems for opposing teams in the paint with his size and ability to block shots.
The last time these two teams met, Hammons had a good game, grabbing seven rebounds and putting up 10 points. He also blocked two shots against the Nittany Lions. The sophomore center came up big at the end of the game, getting fouled and going to the line with the game tied late. He converted on one free throw, which turned out to be the game-winner.
Penn State has to do better on the glass this time around as well as find an answer for Hammons down low. With the way recent games have gone, the Nittany Lions should be able to carry the momentum they have gained as well as use the advantage of the home crowd to come out victorious.
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