When it rains it pours. As has often times been the case over the years, it is currently pouring for Penn State basketball.
After traveling to Blacksburg and dominating then #15 Virginia Tech 75-55 to improve to 3-1 on the season, the Nittany Lions have lost five games in a row. Each of these losses were against Big Ten foes making the Nittany Lions 3-6 overall on the season, 0-5 in conference play.
Thursday night Penn State will host the 7-5 Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a game that has been rescheduled from January 12th. In a game that both teams need in a bad way, the Nittany Lions will be looking to secure their first conference win of the season.
Scouting the Opposition
After starting the season 6-0 and climbing inside the AP top 15, Rutgers has hit a skid. The Scarlet Knights have gone 1-5 in their last 6 games with each of these losses being Big Ten conference losses.
The Scarlet Knight are a team that has struggled offenisvely this season. They rank 96th nationally in field goal percetnage (46.0%), 119th in three-point field goal percentage (34.8%) and 155th nationally in points per game (73.9).
Rutgers’ leading scorer is Ron Harper Jr. who is averaging 18.6 points per game, while shooting 48.8% from the field and 42.3% from three. Jacob Young (15.8 PPG) and Montez Mathias (12.5 PPG) are two other guards Rutgers has who are capable of scoring as well.
What to Watch For
This will be the first game Rutgers has played in nearly a week. The Scarlet Knights have not played since suffering a 60-54 loss against Wisconsin last Friday. Prior to that, the Scarlet Knights had not played a game since January 9th. Rust could potentially be something to watch with Rutgers on Thursday night.
While Rutgers does not have big men that are as high a caliber as some of the others that haev given Penn State problems this season, 6-foot-11 junior Myles Johnson could sitll be a handful for the Nittany Lions. He is averaging 7.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season. His 8.8 rebounds per game would lead the Nittany Lions.
Rutgers has also struggled to guard the three-point shot this season. Opponents are hitting threes at a 31.8% rate this season, which puts the Scarlet Knights 125th nationall in three-point defense. Hopefully this will lead to the Nittany Lions getting the three ball going with Izaiah Brockington, Myreon Jones, Sam Sessoms, Myles Dread, and company.
Neither of these teams are playing good basketball right now. With Penn State bing the home team, they eke out their first Big Ten win of the season.
Penn State 75, Rutgers 74