Okay, so yesterday pretty much went as we expected. N.C. State is a really good team and through two games, Penn State has yet to put together a complete outing. The shooting has yet to resurface since it went away in, uh, March 2011, and it takes a great shooting night to beat a top team like the Wolfpack.
There were some positives in yesterday's defeat. Jon Graham grabbed a career high ten rebounds and was much more active than he was in the season opener against St. Francis (PA), but his finishing inside was once again lackluster, as he missed a few bunnies. D.J. Newbill had a decent game (6-12 FG, 13 points), save his five turnovers, and Tim Frazier did Tim Frazier things, even after a slow start that didn't see him register his first point until the six minute mark in the first half. But shooting 31% against N.C. State simply won't cut it, and it probably won't cut it against Providence.
The Friars were the victims of UMass's second buzzer-beater of the year, as Terrell Vinson's tip-in to win the game 77-75 sent Providence into the losers bracket to face the Nittany Lions. Ed Cooley's team performed valiantly in spite of the fact that they are without their star point guard, Vincent Council (hamstring injury), as well as two heralded freshmen in Kris Dunn (shoulder injury) and Ricky Ledo (declared ineligible). In fact, the Friars are only operating with six scholarship players, so fatigue may play a factor in tonight's contest.
However, the players that will suit up for Providence could very well pose problems for Penn State. Junior guard Bryce Cotton is averaging 23 points a game in this young season, and former PSU recruiting target LaDontae Henton is capable of scoring in bunches, although he is coming off his worst shooting performance of the season (5-16 FG against UMass).
The most difficult matchup for the Nittany Lions could be Kadeem Batts, who is seeing major minutes for the first time in his career and taking full advantage. The power forward had 19 and 9 in 38 minutes last night, and after Pat Chambers himself noted that C.J. Leslie "killed" his team, Jon Graham may have to come up big once again in order for Penn State to grab a win.
The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30pm, but don't look for it on TV. WatchESPN/ESPN3.com will carry this one. Pray for Dino Gaudio on the commentary.
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