Penn State men’s basketball (13-6, 4-4 Big Ten) is looking to build off Saturday’s win over Nebraska by passing a tough road test at Rutgers. Here are five things to know ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
LOOKING FOR TWO
Penn State’s won consecutive Big Ten games once before this season, beating Illinois on the road Dec. 11 and Iowa at the Bryce Jordan Center on New Year’s Day. But those wins came three weeks apart with three non-conference games in between. If Penn State beats Rutgers, it will give the team two straight conference wins just three days apart, thus creating more momentum. Beating a team that shocked No. 1 Purdue on the road would be a good look as well.
WE NEED THE FUNK
Andrew Funk has been a baller for Penn State this season, and he’s been excellent in January. In Penn State’s last three home games, Funk’s scored 23 points twice and scored an even 20 in the other game. In Penn State’s win over Nebraska this past Saturday, Funk scored seven of Penn State’s first 10 points in a 10-0 run to start the game and tied his season-high with 23, 16 of which coming in the first half. If Penn State is to get a win in New Jersey, it’s likely that Funk will be a big reason.
THE RUTGERS RUNDOWN
Rutgers comes in with a 13-6 overall record and 5-3 conference mark. The team is looking to bounce back from a 70-57 loss to Michigan State this past Thursday and also has Big Ten losses at Ohio State and against Iowa at home. The one-point Ohio State loss came on a Tanner Holden buzzer beater.
Had that shot not gone in, and if everything else played out the same way, Rutgers would be 6-2 in the conference and in sole possession of second place. Rutgers has the top scoring defense in the Big Ten, giving up less than 60 points per game.
The team is also fifth in the Big Ten in offensive scoring average, putting up nearly 70 points per game.
Rutgers does a solid job defending the 3-ball, ranking third in the Big Ten in opponent 3-point field goal percentage. Penn State is the top 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten. So it will be strength against strength.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Penn State is 3-1 against Big Ten opponents in the Bryce Jordan Center this season, with the only blemish coming against Michigan State in the conference opener. Penn State is 1-2 on the road with a loss to Purdue at The Palestra, in what was a home game away from State College. Coach Micah Shrewsberry’s team hasn’t won a Big Ten road game in almost a month in a half, and Tuesday is a chance to accomplish that.
HOW TO WATCH
Rutgers is a 6.5-point favorite against Penn State according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 on the Big Ten Network. Here’s more information on how to watch and listen to the game.
TV Announcers: Jason Horowitz (PXP), Stephen Brando (color)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
Radio Announcers: Steve Jones (PXP) Dick Jerardi (color)
SiriusXM Channel: 380, 970 (app)