Coming off the heels of back-to-back losses against Miami and Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will have a golden opportunity to get back in the win column tonight when they host the Wagner Seahawks. However, they must also be careful not to take this Wagner team too lightly, or else they could face what CBS Sports college hoops reporter Jon Rothstein loves to call the epitome of brutality.
Scouting The Opposition
The Seahawks have only played four games thus far, due to three of them being postponed over multiple Tier 1 personnel testing positive for COVID-19. Hence, their 3-1 record, which includes blowouts wins over Hartford, Stony Brook, and on the road against future PSU opponent VCU.
Guard Alex Morales is the team’s leading scorer (18.3 points per game) and rebounder (8.3 boards per game), and three other players in guards Elijah Ford, Will Martinez, and forward Raekwon Rogers also average double figures in scoring. The Seahawks average nine steals per game as a team (22nd in steal percentage according to KenPom), which isn’t exactly welcoming news for a Nittany Lion squad that has had major turnover problems this season, but Wagner does also average 15 turnovers a game, so things do even out.
The Seahawks are also shooting an abysmal 29.7 percent from behind the arc, so don’t be surprised if they magically get red hot shooting three-pointers at PSU’s expense.
What To Watch For
Similar to the Ohio State preview, we’re on Jevonnie Scott and Greg Lee watch. If there is a game to ease these two back into game action, it’s one like this. If not, we probably won’t see either one until the Quinnipiac game on December 22nd. Can PSU take care of the ball against an opportunistic defense like Wagner’s and on the flip side, can PSU defend the perimeter well enough so that a Wagner team that has shot poorly from downtown continues to do so? If the answer to both of these is ‘Yes’ then this should be a game PSU wins handily.
This Wagner team is no slouch and PSU could very well find themselves in a battle if they don’t do a better job taking care of the ball. While I don’t see PSU’s turnover woes being completely fixed, they will clean it up just enough to avoid the upset. Look for John Harrar to rack up another double-double and for Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett to also join Harrar in the double figures scoring column to help end a two-game losing skid.
Penn State 68, Wagner 61