Preview: Penn State Meets Duquense Looking to Get Back on Track

By Matthew Filipovits on December 19, 2018 at 2:48 pm
Nov 30, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes guard Brandon Wade (R) dribbles around Pittsburgh Panthers guard Trey McGowens (2) during the first half at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Duqeusne Dukes
Duquesne Dukes
8-2 (0-0 A10)
Roster/Schedule
7 p.m. ET – Wednesday, Dec. 19
PPG Paints Arena
PITTSBURGH
Watch Info: CBSSN I Gametracker
KenPom Rank: 154
KenPom Line: Penn State -6

After a late-game implosion on Saturday, the Nittany Lions desperately need a win. A trip to the Duquesne (8-2, 0-0) will give Penn State (5-5, 0-2) the chance get a win over an in-state rival, and build up some confidence with Big Ten play resuming in less than three weeks.

The Dukes only two losses have come at Notre Dame and in a blowout against the Pitt Panthers. Outside of that, they've beaten everyone they should have beaten, something all good teams should be able to do. Keith Dambrot took the Dukes from terrible to mediocre in year one, and a win here would be a big step in his turnaround of the program.

Projected Starters
Penn State   Duquesne
Rasir Bolton - 6'2" - Fr. 1 Sincere Carry 6'1" - Fr.
Myles Dread - 6'4" - Fr. 2 Mike Lewis II - 6'1" - Jr.
Josh Reaves - 6'5" - Sr. 3 Frankie Hughes - 6'4" - Soph.
Lamar Stevens - 6'8" - Jr. 4 Marcus Weathers - 6'5" - Soph.
Mike Watkins - 6'9" - RS Jr. 5 Austin Rotroff - 6'10" - Fr. 

Rasir Bolton was on fire for the Nittany Lions in Atlantic City, scoring a game-high 25 points, while shooting 3-5 from deep and 10-11 from the free throw line. The rest of the Nittany Lions' starters had a rough night from the field, scoring just 40 points. They need at least one other guy to bring their A-game on any given night to win against some of the tougher teams they'll face. Mike Watkins looked tired last game, a by-product of having to play more with Stevens in foul trouble and Trent Buttrick not making the trip due to illness. The Lions need to rotate their big guys going forward until Watkins is back in the shape he was prior to getting injured last year.

Keys to the game

Penn State needs their playmakers to stay out of foul trouble. Lamar Stevens spent of the most of the game sidelined with fouls, leaving the Nittany Lions to rely heavily on freshman guards, and a Mike Watkins who hasn't played all that much basketball since March. Pat Chambers has the better the team, but he needs his best players on the court.

Outside of avoiding fouls, Penn State needs production off its bench. Jamari Wheeler's nine points in Atlantic City should go a long way in terms of building his confidence. He was efficient with the basketball and looked like the best guard on the team outside of Bolton. Myreon Jones needs to get back on track. He was the key in the Virginia Tech, but did next to nothing against NC State. Having Stevens on the floor should help open things up and get Myles Dread and Jones some better looks. 

Prediction

The Nittany Lions really need to pick up a win here. They hung with NC State for a good 30 minutes before a cold-streak doomed their boardwalk adventure. Duquesne is a solid team and will compete for the A10's bid to the NCAA tournament, but they've fallen short against their biggest opponents so far this year. The Dukes need a win here to prove their contenders in the conference. The Nittany Lions need a win or their tourney hopes are pretty much done. I think Penn State plays a motivated game, builds a big enough lead, but struggles again down the stretch and barely holds off the Dukes. Penn State 74, Duquesne 67.

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