Game 6 Preview: Monmouth Hawks

Michael Hickey

The second of two Barclay's Classic tune-ups commences tonight at the Jordan Center.

Who: Monmouth Hawks (1-3)
When: Tonight, 6:00 PM ET
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: Big Ten Network
KenPom Rank: 303
Line: PSU -17.5

After taking down Longwood on Sunday, tonight's game is the second of two home games Penn State is slated to play in conjunction with the Barclay's Classic, in which they will play their first game against St. John's this Friday in Brooklyn's Barclay's Center.

Scouting The Opposition

The Hawks will make their debut in the MAAC conference this year, which is about a half-step up from the NEC conference they previously had played in. Since making their last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006, Monmouth has suffered through seven straight losing seasons, a disturbing trend that third-year head coach King Rice is looking to correct. If the coach's name sounds familiar to you, he's the same King Rice who played point guard at UNC in the early 90's. Just being the head coach of a Division 1 college hoops program is an accomplishment for Rice, who has overcome alcoholism and other personal struggles to get to where he is today.

Junior guard Deon Jones leads the Hawks with his 18 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, thus far. He is also a tall for a guard at 6'6" which makes him a matchup issue for any opposing backcourt. He also leads the team in blocks, average one per game. He may not shoot it from three-point range much, but when he does, he makes those shots count (7-for-12). Andrew Nicholas (13 ppg) and Justin Robinson (11 ppg) also guards, are the other two Monmouth players averaging double figures in scoring.

After winning their season opener against Hofstra, the Hawks have dropped their last three contests in a row, including a 64-54 loss at St. John's (WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??? Nothing, Mr. Transitive Property Guy).

Key Matchup

Deon Jones vs. the PSU defense. Granted, Jones could put together a LeBron-esque performance tonight, and it won't matter If PSU continues to put up points at the unprecedented clip they have recently (nearly 84 ppg dating back to the Bucknell game) and continues to take care of the ball.

Prediction

These types of games against cupcakes played right around a holiday have the tendency to end up being much closer than they otherwise should. So long as PSU stays focused and doesn't allow themselves to look ahead to St. John's or what they're going to eat on Thanksgiving, they should cruise to a victory. As far as a score prediction, I'll say 85-65 PSU with Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis, Tim Frazier, and DJ Newbill all hitting double figures in scoring and Ross throwing down another double-double.


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