After dispatching Lafayette over Thanksgiving weekend, Penn State begins the first of a critical three-game stretch with a trip to Clemson as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Tigers are coming off a pair of games in the Emerald Coast Classic tournament that was played over Thanksgiving weekend, one where they gave Iowa all they could handle in a three-point loss before bouncing back and getting a wire-to-wire win over Cal.
Scouting The Opposition
Clemson ranks a decent 57th in offensive efficiency and 77th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, so needless to say, this will be a far bigger challenge than Lafayette was. Chase Hunter is the Tigers’ do-everything point guard, leading the team in points (16.6 per game) and assists (5.3 per game), as well as knocking down 60 percent (18-of-30) of his three-point attempts thus far. Forward Hunter Tyson leads the Tigers in rebounding, averaging nearly nine boards per game to go with his 12 ppg. Guard Brevin Galloway also averages double figures scoring (11.1 ppg) and leads the team averaging nearly 1.5 steals per game.
What To Watch For
Can Penn State mitigate the advantage Tyson will likely have on the boards and limit his points in the paint? We’ve seen different looks thrown out there with Kebba Njie starting the last couple of games and we’ll see if that continues. You’ll also want to pay attention to the battle in the backcourt between Jalen Pickett/Cam Wynter/Andrew Funk and Hunter/Galloway.
This is a golden opportunity for Penn State to get a big road win before even playing a conference opponent. It will also be the final B1G-ACC Challenge for the Nittany Lions, as ESPN announced it will be scrapping it for a ACC-SEC Challenge beginning next year. I anticipate this being a very tight one, but given how cohesive of a unit this PSU team has looked so far, and with how consistent they have been with perimeter shooting, someone will step up with a clutch shot or two in the final minute to put the Nittany Lions over the top.
Penn State 73, Clemson 71