Following a bitterly disappointing loss at Wisconsin against arguably the most vulnerable Wisconsin team Penn State has ever faced at the Kohl Center (and still failed to get their first-ever win in the arena’s 25-year history), Penn State will seek to regroup and try to get their conference record back up to .500 when they host Nebraska tomorrow.
Scouting The Opposition
The Huskers are coming off a tight win at home against free-falling Ohio State. Senior guard Sam Griesel led the way in the win with 15 points (including a pair of three-pointers) and seven rebounds, while fellow backcourt mate Keisei Tominaga pitched in with 11 points. Up front, Derrick Walker is the guy to look out for, as he racked up double-digits on the boards with ten of them against the Buckeyes and is averaging nearly eight boards per game (along with 13.6 ppg) on the season. He may not be a Zach Edey or Hunter Dickinson-caliber big man, but Walker can still cause problems down low, especially for teams like Penn State that lack an established post player.
What To Watch For
Can the Shrews Crew shake off a tough loss and not allow it to get inside their heads? So far this season, PSU has not suffered anything longer than a two-game losing skid, and that’s a testament in part to the coaching staff and a rather veteran-heavy squad of players holding each other accountable. It sure will help that they will have a larger-than-usual crowd at the BJC to cheer them on, but they still need to go out and do their part to contain Walker and not allow Griesel or Tominaga to get hot shooting the rock.
Additionally, keep an eye on Seth Lundy, as he had a season-low two points against Wisconsin. If he can get back towards his scoring average of nearly 14 points per game, that will certainly help towards the Lions getting back on the winning track.
Last, but certainly not least, keep an eye out for how Penn State plays coming out of halftime, especially if they are sporting a lead. In the losses to Wisconsin and Purdue, the Lions saw all the momentum from their halftime leads evaporate in an instant, due to ice-cold shooting and the other team making adjustments to get one step ahead of them on the offensive end. Even in the wins against Iowa and Indiana, there were some rather shaky stretches of play in the second half which thankfully, the Lions were able to stave off with some good enough shooting.
This is an absolute must-win game for PSU. While a loss won’t destroy their NCAA Tournament hopes, it would significantly reduce the margin for error going forward. Look for a pissed-off bunch of Nittany Lions to take out their frustrations from Tuesday with a nice home crowd on hand and to rip up the nets from downtown as they get back to .500 in Big Ten play.
Penn State 77, Nebraska 66