Preview: Penn State Visits Alabama in Need of a Signature Non-Con Road Win

By Matt de Bear on December 21, 2018 at 11:52 am
Dec 9, 2018; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Avery Johnson (right) talks to guard Tevin Mack (left) during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama Crimson Tide
7-3 (0-0 SEC)
9 p.m. ET – Friday, Dec. 21
Coleman Coliseum
Tuscaloosa, AL
Watch Info: SECN I Gametracker
KenPom Rank: 66
KenPom Line: Alabama -1

Penn State wraps up the road portion of the non-conference schedule on Friday evening when they head south to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide. Penn State enters at 6-5, coming off of a bizarre 73-67 victory over Duquense on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The game will cap a three game road trip heading into the Christmas break.

Pat Chambers inserted Jamari Wheeler back into the starting line up against the Dukes, taking the place of freshman Myles Dread. The change seemed to work as Dread rediscovered his three-point shot, nailing four triples on seven shots. Lamar Stevens once again carried the Nittany Lions' offensive attack to the tune of 25 points - 21 in the second half - and pulling down 10 rebounds. Expect Chambers to go with the same five against the Tide to start.

In his fifth season on the Alabama bench, head coach Avery Johnson has his team off to an inconsistent 7-3 start, something Penn State is familiar with on their side as well. While the Tide claims wins over a solid Arizona team, they've also dropped a 16 point decision to Northeastern in the Charleston Classic, and a three point home loss to Georgia State. The third loss came to a solid UCF team in Orlando.

Three players average in double figures, with highly touted freshman point guard Kira Lewis Jr. leading the way with 15.6 per game. Sophomore guard John Petty (11.4) and senior forward Donta Hall (10.4) are two players to keep an eye on as well. Hall leads the team with 7.3 rebounds per game as well, with Petty chipping in 4.9 from his backcourt spot. All told, nine players have appeared in each of the Tide's 10 games, with a ninth (Dazon Ingram) missing just one. Each of those average at least 11.5 minutes a night, with no one playing more than 31.9 minutes per game.

On paper, this looks like two teams in similar situations, and the one-point KenPom line would seem to agree. However, this will be the Nittany Lions' second game in just about 48 hours, with travel from Pittsburgh to Alabama. That combination, plus Penn State's continuing struggles on the offensive end, and it's tough to see the visitors coming away with a victory. Alabama 71, Penn State 64