After a strong showing in a loss to Purdue, the Penn State men’s basketball team will look to get back to .500 in Big Ten play tonight against one of the two teams that’s beaten Purdue this season.
Rutgers is 9-5 overall and 3-1 in conference play, with the only conference loss coming Dec. 3 at Illinois. The highlight of the Scarlet Knights’ season thus far has been that win over the Boilermakers, who were then ranked No. 1 in the country. 70-68 on a halfcourt buzzer beater by Ron Harper Jr.
Harper is the player to watch on the Scarlet Knights, averaging 16.3 points per game. Harper also ranks eighth in the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage, which is something to watch for Penn State’s sub-par three point defense, which ranks 256 in the nation.
“Ron Harper can get it going from three, he can shoot it from deep,” Shrewsberry said. We’re going to need to defend him at the half-court line. I saw him beat somebody from half court, so we need to pick our defense up, make sure he’s not eurostepping from half court to make a game-winning shot like he did against Purdue.”
Also contributing for Rutgers are Geo Baker (11.9 PPG) and 6-foot-11 center Clifford Omoruyi (11.6). Caleb McConnell leads the Big Ten with 30 steals, and point guard Paul Mulcahy is fourth in the conference in assists. Rutgers will be without the services of Mawot Mag (4.4 PPG) who is nursing an injured tooth.
For Penn State, guard Jalen Pickett has been the hot hand since the New Year began. Pickett scored 21 points against Purdue and 18 in the Lions’ win against Northwestern, and additionally, he’s fifth in the Big Ten in assists per game. Penn State will also look for more consistency from Seth Lundy and Sam Sessoms down the stretch. The former didn’t score a point in the first half against Purdue, and the latter has only scored 16 points total in Penn State’s last three games, and didn’t score at all against the Boilermakers.
The Nittany Lions are 3.5 favorites according for BetMGM. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 on the Big Ten Network. Brandon Gaudin (PXP) and Rapheal Davis (analyst) will be on the call.