Basketball Preview: Rutgers

Audio/Story posted February 2, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Sports Staff


Will Desautelle, Brian McLaughlin, Anthony Spada and Zach Kaplan give their predictions of Penn State's upcoming game against the Scarlet Knights.


Two teams in the lower half of the Big Ten conference will face off on Saturday as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-11, 1-9 Big Ten) head to University Park, Pa. to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-11, 4-6 Big Ten).

For Penn State it could be a chance to get back on track in the Big Ten race against an opponent who struggles in conference play. These two teams faced off once earlier in the season on New Year’s Day when the Nittany Lions overcame the Scarlet Knight 60-47 in that game.

Rutgers comes into the game with a three game losing streak and their one conference win of the season coming against Nebraska on January 21st. Rutgers won the Nebraska contest 65-64 with one second remaining on the clock. Penn State are coming into the game winning only one of their last four, including falling to Indiana in triple overtime 110-102 on Wednesday.

In this matchup, Penn State lead the all-time series 40-30. Penn State is 25-8 against Rutgers when playing at home as well, adding to their confidence coming into the game. In their earlier matchup, Rutgers held Penn State to only 36.4 percent shooting, but couldn’t consistently find he basket with their own shots, shooting only 28.6 percent on their field goal attempts and 15 percent on their three pointers.

Rutgers’ struggles have been consistent all year in the Big Ten, averaging 58 points per game while giving up an average of 71.5 points. Rutgers have only scored more than 60 points four times in Big Ten play, while their opponents have not yet scored less than 60, Penn State being the lowest at exactly 60. Penn State on the other hand have averaged 68.1 points in their 10 conference games while their opponents averaged 74.3. Still not great as Penn State’s defense tends to suffer when their offense picks up.

Rutgers are going to have to watch out for multiple Penn State players, including freshman forward Mike Watkins who leads the Nittany Lions in rebounds on both sides of the court and who earned his sixth double-double of the season against Indiana on Wednesday. Penn State also have four players averaging over 11 points per game, with Watkins just missing out at 9.5. Penn State’s four are Shep Garner (12.5 PPG), Tony Carr (12 PPG), Payton Banks (11.9 PPG) and Lamar Stevens (11.7 PPG).

Penn State will be keeping a close eye on Rutgers’ standouts as well, including junior forward Deshawn Freeman who had his ninth double-double of the season against Iowa on Tuesday and leads his team in boards on both sides of the court. Freeman’s double-double against Iowa gives him the most double-doubles in a season for a Rutgers player since Rashod Kent (14) in 2001-02. Rutgers top scorers are Corey Sanders (12.4 PPG), Deshawn Freeman (11.3 PPG) and Nigel Johnson (11 PPG).

This matchup will come down to whichever team wakes up more ready to play, as consistency has been a problem for both teams. With the higher shooting percentage and more consistent defense, Penn State looks to have the edge heading into Saturday. The triple overtime game could affect the Nittany Lion starters, who also have one less day to rest up for the game, but Penn State should have confidence against a Rutgers team who barely managed one win in the Big Ten so far this season.

Prediction: Penn State 70, Rutgers 56


Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

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Tommy Butler

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Tommy Butler has worked as both a reporter and a play by play analyst during his time at CommRadio. Tommy has written articles for the Penn State football, basketball and hockey teams, served as the beat write for almost every Penn State sport, and called baseball, soccer, basketball, football and hockey games. Tommy also works with The Armchair All-Americans as the Big Ten Department Head and Editor-in-Chief on the senior board of directors. To contact Tommy, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @ButlerOnTheAir .

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Will Desautelle

Junior / Broadcast Journalism and Political Science

Will Desautelle is a junior from Washington Crossing, PA. majoring in broadcast journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. He is very involved in writing, broadcasting, and producing for numerous Penn State sports teams. For the last two years, he has worked for Penn State Athletics as a feature writer for the Penn State women’s and men’s volleyball teams. Last summer, Will interned at State College Magazine and was a reporter and play-by-play broadcaster for the State College Spikes. He has also worked as a feature writer for and has studied abroad in Guatemala. He has written for Armchair All-Americans, covering Penn State football. Outside of CommRadio, he is a member of the Penn State Men’s Club Volleyball team and is a member of the THON Communications Committee. One day Will hopes to become a sports writer or reporter for a national sports network. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @wdesautelle.

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Brian McLaughlin

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Brian McLaughlin is a Junior in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and one of two student General Managers for CommRadio. He is a Play-by-Play voice for many Penn State sports for CommRadio and especially enjoys calling baseball, football and hockey. Brian has also been a writer and podcast host for every major Penn State sport. Previously he has interned with the Altoona Curve, the Double-A Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has also worked as a Play by Play Broadcaster for the Kalamazoo Growlers, a collegiate summer league baseball team in the Northwoods League. To contact him please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Zach Kaplan

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He has helped provide weekly coverage of Penn State football and men’s hockey during the fall semester. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or find him on Twitter at @Zach_Kaplan5.