Penn State will be in search of a third-place finish and 2-1 record in the consolation game of the Charleston Classic. Both of the Lions’ first two games came down to close finishes. Against Furman, Penn State bolted out to a big lead only to hold on in the final seconds.
In inverse fashion, the Nittany Lions found themselves down double digits throughout much of the first 25 minutes before nearly pulling even against Virginia Tech. A great defensive play by the Hokies preserved the win in the closing seconds. At the end of the day, these early season tournament events provide a chance to learn a lot about a team while hopefully amassing a few wins. That will be Sunday’s goal with Penn State staring at a four-day break following this one.
Scouting the Opposition
Colorado State is 4-1, too and they have the most eye-popping result of the Charleston Classic - an 85-53 opening win against SEC foe South Carolina in the opener of the tournament. It’s been one of the few runaways in the four-day event. The Rams lost in the semifinals to the host College of Charleston - a game where they shot poorly and could never pull closer than six points in the second half.
John Tonje leads CSU in scoring as the 6’5 guard is averaging 13.4 points per game and will likely draw a matchup with Seth Lundy. The Rams were an NCAA tournament last year, but lost David Roddy to the NBA and suffered a big preseason injury loss. Guard Isaiah Stevens, who averaged 14.7 points for Colorado State last year, is sidelined currently with a foot injury.
Isaiah Rivera, Patrick Cartier, and James Moors are each averaging in double figures for Colorado State, who has been really good defending the 3-pointer (30.4%) so far this early season.
What to Watch For
Who wants it more? Really, a simple and easy question that usually shows itself in these early season tournaments. A third game in four days? A break, of some sorts, ahead? On a neutral site, whichever team can generate some early energy often winds up coming away with a win - and a 2-1 finish in a holiday tournament is worthwhile.
Penn State’s shooting - as mentioned earlier, Colorado State has defended the 3-pointer well early in the year. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have been in love with the shot - but have had some cold spells that nearly cost them against Furman and kept them behind much of Friday’s game against Virginia Tech. Andrew Funk broke out late with a couple of big makes against the Hokies. But, can Penn State be more consistent with the long ball throughout?
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses, but had a day to collect their thoughts and get in the right mindset. I think a fully healthy and deeper Penn State team gets the job done. Penn State 73, Colorado State 66.