Penn State vs. ULM Preview

Story posted December 11, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Murphy Esquivel

Penn State will conclude its Return to Rec series on Saturday against ULM on Saturday, Dec.12 at 2 p.m. Penn State looks to improve its record to 7-3.

The Nittany Lions have had a decent couple of games, losing on the road to George Washington by 10 on Tuesday and beating Canisius by 14 on Thursday. The recent game against Canisius contains mixed results as Penn State allowed Canisius to shoot 25.8 percent from the 3-point line, but committed 21 turnovers to an inferior team.

Brandon Taylor led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 18 points, but he was 3 of 10 from the floor and also committed four fouls. Penn State needs Taylor to be on the floor because ULM has two good frontcourt players, capable of scoring points in bunches.

Forwards Majok Deng and Jamaal Samuel will be the two players that Penn State needs to control on Saturday. Deng leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 18.3 and 7.3, while Samuel posted a game-high 18 points in ULM’s loss to Kent State on Thursday.

The big man trio of Jordan Dickerson, Julian Moore or Donovan Jack will face off against Deng and Samuel as the center position for Penn State has been in a constant state of flux. Dickerson and Moore played great against Canisius, combining to score 21 points on 7 of 8 shooting from both the field and the free throw line. Whichever big men can play the most consistent offensively will determine the game.

Freshman Josh Reaves came off the bench in his last game and provided a spark for the Nittany Lions. While he did not hit double digits, Reaves managed to hit 4 of 7 from the field while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Games like that from Reaves will help Penn State be successful not only on Saturday, but when conference play begins.

Payton Banks had a solid game on Thursday as well, scoring 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. Efficient games from Banks is what Penn State needs to be successful and he should have a good game as the Warhawks allowed three starters on Kent State to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.

The X-factor in the game will be the point guard matchup between Shep Garner and Nick Coppola. Coppola averages around 10 points and four assists per game, but he has been playing great over his last four games, getting over 15 points and five assists per game during that stretch.

Garner is capable of scoring in bunches like he did against Boston College, but also has the ability to distribute the basketball when he had eight assists against Radford. The point guard that can control the pace of the game will determine which team will win the game.

Davis Zemgulis and Devin Foster had solid performances off the bench as both players scored five points against Canisius. Their play will be a key on Saturday because Penn State’s bench has contributed to a few victories this season, including the BIG/ACC challenge game against Boston College last week.

Penn State wants to defend its old home court in Rec Hall and look for the Nittany Lions to give the ball to Taylor early and often in the post. While Samuel and Deng are both at least 6-foot-9, they are both less than 200 pounds and Taylor will use his muscle to power Penn State to a victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

Joseph Murphy Esquivel is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu