Following a tough 1-1 week, the Nittany Lions return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Piscataway to battle Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights own a 13-6 record, but sit second in the Big Ten with a 5-3 record in conference play.
Tuesday night’s matchup will be a vital game for both teams. The Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights are both teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations this season. If the Nittany Lions can pick up yet another Quad 1 win on Tuesday night, that would go a long way toward helping to solidify them as a tournament team.
Scouting the Opposition
Big man Clifford Omoruyi could become a problem for Penn State and fast on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-11, 240 pound junior has the ability to takeover games. He is averaging 13.2 points and a team leading 10.2 rebounds per game this season.
Senior guard Cam Spencer is just ahead of Omoruyi as the team’s leading scoring, averaging 13.6 PPG. Outside of Spencer and Omoruyi it is a group effort for Rutgers on offense. Caleb McConnell is averaging 9.9 PPG, Aundre Hyatt averages 9.2 PPG, and Paul Mulcahy chips in 8.8 PPG.
At times, however, the Scarlet Knights can struggle to score. They rank 228th nationally in points per game and their 42.7% field goal percentage ranks 269th nationally. The Scarlet Knights do rebound the ball well on offense, ranking 30th nationally with 12.6 offensive rebounds per game. Overall, Rutgers averages 38.6 rebounds per game which ranks 38th nationally.
Defense is where Rutgers shines. Steve Pikiell’s squad is allowing just 57.6 points per game which ranks 5th nationally. They rank 6th in opponent field goal percentage at 37.7% and 30th in opposing three-point field goal percentage at 29.6%. Obviously, the latter of those two will be vital on Tuesday night.
What to Watch For
How will Penn State handle Omoruyi? - When Omoruyi is on he can dominate a game and is one of the best big men in the Big Ten. Players like this have given the Nittany Lions problems all season. Evan Mahaffey has the motor, but lacks the size to consistent guard players like Omoruyi. Kebba Njie has the size but just simply is not there yet in his development. Omoruyi could wreck this game for Penn State.
Can Penn State get the three-point shot going? - At this point in the season it is abundantly obvious that to find offensive success Penn State needs three-point shots to be dropping.It will be no different on Tuesday night as they go up against a very good defensive club in Rutgers. If Andrew Funk, Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, etc. can not get going from three, it could be a very long night for the Nittany Lion offense.
This is a game that Penn State is very capable of winning. These are two pretty evenly matched teams in terms of overall talent. However, the Scarlet Knights are a great defensive squad and a tough matchup for the Nittany Lions with Omoruyi on the inside. Combine those factors with this game being in New Jersey, and Penn State comes up short. Rutgers 63, Penn State 58