Game Preview: Penn State vs. Virginia Tech
Basketball is back at the Bryce Jordan Center as Penn State will face the 13th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies Tuesday night.
Penn State is trying to turn its basketball program around, but it has gotten off to a shaky start to the season. After beating North Florida and Jacksonville State to start the season, the Nittany Lions have now found themselves in a hole as of late by dropping games to DePaul and most recently to Bradley. Now, Penn State plays its toughest opponent to date this season when No. 13 Virginia Tech comes to town.
The guy who hasn’t gotten off to a shaky start to the season for Penn State, however, is junior forward Lamar Stevens. In five games this season, Stevens has led the Nittany Lions in scoring by averaging 24.8 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting.
With guard Tony Carr leaving for the NBA Draft, Stevens has done a great job putting the ball in the hoop to start this season. He will have to have another big night against the Hokies for Penn State to have a shot.
Penn State will need other guys to step up as well in this game. We could possibly see junior center Mike Watkins for the first time this season after he was suspended indefinitely before the season with disorderly conduct charges. If Watkins plays, it will help Penn State in the frontcourt on both sides of the ball.
Senior guard Josh Reaves needs to continue his physical play on defense for the Nittany Lions to have a chance. Reaves is averaging 2.4 steals per game, and his offensive game has surprisingly come along by averaging 11.8 points per game, which is second on the team.
Finally, freshman guards Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton have shown flashes this season, but they will have their work cut out for them against these Hokie guards.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Tech Hokies have gotten off to a hot start with a 5-0 record. The Hokies have handled their business to start the season and beat a solid Purdue team at Mackey Arena. The guard trio of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill have looked unstoppable so far this season. All are averaging over 15 points per game and are shooting over 40 percent from three-point land.
The key for Penn State to be competitive in this game is to get up early. Stay in striking range the entire game and the Nittany Lions may be able to steal it at the end. They also have to guard the three-point line and constantly need to switch up the defensive looks.
After a horrible loss to Bradley, Penn State should come out ready to play, but it will be tough to keep up with this explosive Virginia Tech team for 40 minutes. Penn State could potentially get up early and maybe have a lead at halftime, but the Hokies will take over in the second half.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 77, Penn State 64
Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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