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Penn State vs Morgan State Preview: Closing Out the Non-Conference Schedule

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The Nittany Lions look to build off their emphatic win over St. John’s as the Bears are back in town.

NCAA Basketball: Morgan State at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent Summary

Who When: Where: TV: KenPom Rank: Record: Vegas Line:
Who When: Where: TV: KenPom Rank: Record: Vegas Line:
Maryland Terrapins Tuesday, Feburary 7th, 6:00 PM EST Bryce Jordan Center (University Park, PA) BTN 35 20-3, 8-2 Big Ten Maryland -3

It’s not the flashiest of the non-conference match-ups for Penn State this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Aside from the meltdown that would ensue if Pat Chambers’ young squad were to fall at home to a team ranked #327 on KenPom, a loss would mean the first time since 2010-11 that the Lions fail to reach 8 victories in non-conference play (NOTE: In no way am I suggesting that a loss is likely, I’m just trying to create some intrigue around a game that is lacking in that department).

With the game featuring a 5:00 PM ET tip on BTN-Plus on the brink of Winter Break, this is one of those home games where the BJC will feel more like a bed-chamber than a basketball arena. After playing one of their best games this year, at Madison Square Garden, the toughest test in this game will be for the young team to bring their own energy. The stress of finals is gone, but I expect the team will be eager to get out of State College and enjoy the Holidays with their families.

Scouting the Opposition

Head Coach Todd Bozeman has fallen on hard times, going 16-46 over the past two years, after leading the Bears to conference championships two times in his first four years (2006-2010). Morgan State has had a rough start to the season at 3-7, which would seem to support a preseason prediction to finish 9th in the MEAC. They are coming off an 11-day break, which allows them to regroup following a tight 66-68 loss against Wagner (#225 in KenPom, for reference).

The player to watch is, without a doubt, junior guard Tiwian Kendley. Remarkably, he has scored one-third of Morgan State’s total points this season! He’s not a big threat from 3-pt range, shooting just over 25%, but is capable of scoring inside and getting to the free throw line. After scoring 40 points in a double-OT thriller against Manhattan, Kendley missed the Bears game against Wagner for unknown reasons. I would expect him to play tonight in State College.

Along with Kendley, Phillip Carr is averaging double-digit scoring so far this year with 17.1 ppg. He also leads the team in rebounding with 9.6 per game. If the Nittany Lions can shut either of these impact players down, Morgan State should be in for a long evening.

What to Watch For

Can Penn State carry the momentum from the St. John’s game into this evening’s tilt? Better yet, was the 35-5 run to end the first half an aberration of the team’s true form, or is it a sign of better things to come? Penn State did a much better job running their offense, and hopefully they will continue to press for buckets inside the paint instead chucking up 3s. It will be tough to draw many conclusions from this game, so I’m just hoping for the team’s play to continue an upwards trend.

Prediction

While I do worry about another slow start for the team, I do not see Penn State losing this game. Mike Watkins gets his fourth double-double of the season, and fans can rest easy going into the Holidays before they open B1G play on the 27th against Northwestern.

Penn State 85 - Morgan State 68