Micah Shrewsberry’s 3-0 Penn State Nittany Lions return to the court on Thursday morning. With an 11:30 AM EST tipoff waiting, the Nittany Lions will look to remain perfect when they play the Furman Paladins in the first-round of the Charleston Classic.
With a victory over the Paladins on Thursday morning the Nittany Lions will play the winner of Virginia Tech and Old Dominion who play later in the day. With a loss, the Nittany Lions will face the loser between the Hokies and Monarchs.
Penn State will look to continue to ride their strong shooting from behind the arc (44-for-98, 47.2%) in what they hope will be a fourth consecutive victory to start the season. The Nittany Lions will also look to avoid the extended stretches of poor offensive play they had at times during the second half of Monday night’s victory over Butler.
Scouting the opposition
The Paladins are a strong Southern Conference squad. Last season, Furman finished 22-12. This included reaching the Southern Conference Tournament Championship Game where they fell by a single point in overtime against Chattanooga.
Furman is led by senior guard Mike Bothwell. The defending first-ream all-conference Bothwell is shooting 64% from the field on the season wheel averaging 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. The Paladins are averaging 90 PPG through their first two games of the season and Bothwell is a big reason why.
Forward Jalen Slawson is another Furman player to watch. The defending SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, Slawson is averaging 17.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Slawson is one of the most underrated players the Nittany Lions will face all season.
What to watch for
Opposing big men could prove to be an issue for much of the season for Penn State. Butler’s Manny Bates was the best player on the court for the Bulldogs on Monday night and helped his team hang around. That said, Furman has no one over 6-foot-9 who sees significant minutes. This should bode well for the Nittany Lions and create some favorable matchups.
An underrated thing to watch in this game will be how both coaching staffs handle their benches. This will be the first of three games in four days, so both coaches may look to rotate players more than usual. It would not be a surprise to see the Nittany Lions rotation be a lot looser than the tight eight man rotation they went with on Monday night.
This will not be an easy game for Penn State. Furman is a very good mid-major team and it would not be a surprise to see them go dancing in March. However, the Nittany Lions are the more talented team and improve to 4-0 on the season. Penn State 74, Furman 68