clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Penn State vs. Georgia Tech Preview: Lions Look To Even Their Big Ten/ACC Challenge Record

New, 8 comments

The Nittany Lions return home to face a Georgia Tech team on its first road game of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Who Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
When: Tuesday, November 29, 7:00 PM EST
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: ESPNU
KenPom Rank: 106
Record: 4-1, 0-0 ACC
Vegas Line: Penn State -8

Penn State faces another opponent that, in KenPom’s eyes (digits?), looks like an even matchup. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets do bring a 4-1 record into Bryce Jordan, so they have at least been taking care of business so far. There’s a bit of a caveat with that record, as 1) They haven’t played on the road (or even in a neutral site game) yet this season. 2) Their lone loss is to Ohio, who, while 19 spots ahead of them in KenPom, hasn’t really played anyone either.

This will be an interesting game for Penn State. Can they handle an untested opponent on their first road game with ease? Will we see some of the same issues we saw against Albany and Colgate, where one guy went off and made it challenging for the Lions to stay ahead (or win altogether, in the case of Albany)? Or will we see the team that showed up against a seemingly better George Washington team on the road and shut down the Colonials for a good portion of the game?

This game will see a return of the pink and black uniforms, my personal favorite, and will also serve as host to the football team and the newly minted Big Ten East championship trophy. The crowd should be good due to the activities, so hopefully it’ll be a factor in the game as well.

Scouting the Opposition

As a team, the Yellow Jackets are only averaging 31% from beyond the arc, but have an eFG% of 50.7. That may be due to their biggest weapon being big man Ben Lammers, who is taking 87% of the minutes at Center, but has yet to take a 3-point shot (for obvious reasons). His eFG% to date is 64.3, which is second highest on the team, but highest among the starters. Speaking of highest, Tadric Jackson is has the highest eFG% on the team at 67.7, and also boasts a 75% 3-point shot percentage on 8 shots on the season. Josh Okogie (eFG% 50), Quinton Stephens (37.8), and Justin Moore (41.4) are also guys to be on the lookout for, but they’re not as big a threat as the previous two.

What to Watch For

Can Mike Watkins and Julian Moore slow down Lammers? If they are able to do so, the Georgia Tech offense will have a hard time finding offense everywhere else. If Lammers is able to do what he wants inside, however, it will open up the game for the rest of the cast and could spell trouble for the Lions. It is imperative that Watkins, Moore, and Lamar Stevens, to a lesser extent, remain out of foul trouble on defense, while being able to execute on offense without having too many empty possessions.

Having Josh Reaves back will help on the defensive effort as well. While a bit timid in his first game back, Reaves seems to be getting comfortable with the team yet again, and could probably see his first start of the season in this game. If he is able to have the same production on defense he had against George Washington, it will be a long night for Georgia Tech.

Prediction

Penn State is 7-8 in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, and they’ll look to even out their record in this game. Look for Pat Chambers to ramp up the tempo in this game, causing havoc for the visiting team. They won’t be able to completely stop Lammers, however, so the game may be closer than we may want. Lions pull away in the end, though. Penn State 87, Georgia Tech 77.