Penn State vs. Nebraska Preview
Following a tough 82-70 loss at home to the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes, Pat Chambers and the Penn State Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, on Thursday, searching for their fifth conference win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-10, 6-6 Big Ten). The Cornhuskers will be looking for their fourth straight win, as the team has recently played some of their best basketball of the season.
The last time these two teams met, at the Bryce Jordan Center in January, Penn State earned their first Big Ten win of the season in a 58-54 win, thanks to a resurgent second half performance. At halftime of that contest, the Nittany Lions trailed 29-22, and were shooting a paltry 24.1% from the field. Penn State’s offense was led by D.J. Newbill in the second half, as the junior guard scored 12 of his 16 points in the final twenty minutes of play.
Although Penn State finished the game with a 35.1% field goal percentage, Nebraska was not much better, posting a 35.8% mark on 19-53 shooting. The Cornhuskers out-rebounded Penn State by five, and shot a much higher percentage from the three point line, shooting 43.5%. Despite all of these statistical advantages, Nebraska’s downfall in Happy Valley was their 14 turnover performance. For Big Red to win the second meeting of the season, they will have to take care of the ball and try to limit any costly turnovers.
Tim Miles and his Nebraska squad were led by sophomore G/F Terran Petteway in the first Penn State game. Petteway scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded two blocks in the loss. The Galveston, TX native is currently averaging 17.4 ppg, a mark that makes him the Big Ten’s second- leading scorer. A Texas Tech transfer, Petteway has excelled in his first season with the Cornhuskers, leading them both on and off of the court.
Since losing to Penn State on January 23, Nebraska has gone 5-1, with wins coming against Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, and most recently, #9 Michigan State. The win over the Spartans in East Lansing, was certainly a shocking one, as Big Red took a lead into halftime and never looked back, controlling the rest of the game and securing a win. The victory was Nebraska’s first over Michigan State since joining the Big Ten, and it gave them their first three-game conference win streak since the 2010-2011 season.
Although Nebraska only shot 35.8% from the field, they still received big time offensive contributions from Petteway, who scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half, and forward Walter Pitchford, who scored 18 in 24 minutes of play. The 18 points marked Pitchford’s career high and showcased what the 6-10 sophomore out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is capable of.
When the Cornhuskers travelled to the Bryce Jordan Center in January, they were sitting at 11th in the Big Ten Standings. Now, Nebraska is in 6th and at a crucial juncture in their season. If the team can
manufacture a few more Big Ten wins in their last six games, they will find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble, with a chance to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
The Cornhuskers certainly have a great deal to play for, and are carrying momentum into the matchup with a very inconsistent Penn State team. For Nebraska to continue to strengthen their tournament resume, a win over the Nittany Lions is crucial. However, as Pat Chambers and his squad have shown over the last few weeks, a win against Penn State is never easy.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Uriah Tagle is a junior majoring in communication arts and sciences, and economics. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)