Penn State vs. Bucknell Preview: Lions Look To Keep Momentum

By Matthew Filipovits on November 19, 2019 at 8:30 am
Nov 14, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Lamar Stevens (11) dribbles as Georgetown Hoyas forward Jamorko Pickett (1) defends during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
© Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Bucknell Bison
2-2 (0-0 Patriot League)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
6:30 p.m. ET – Tuesday, Nov. 19
Bryce Jordan Center
University Park, PA
Watch Info: BTN | GAMETRACKER
KenPom Rank: 138
Read: Chambers' Last Chance

The Nittany Lions  (3-0, 0-0) are back in the BJC following a dominant win over Georgetown in DC on Thursday night. It was the type of early-season performance we haven't seen in some time and something the team can start to build upon.

The Nittany Lions relied on mostly role players in their big win over the Hoyas, as Lamar Stevens had a pretty pedestrian outing by his standards. Myreon Jones was the breakout star, scoring a career-high 21 points (including some hilariously deep heat check three-pointers), while fellow sophomore Myles Dread scored 14. Pat Chambers should feel confident he can get points from all over the floor against the Bison in the first game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Projected Starters
Penn State   Bucknell
Jamari Wheeler - 6'1" - Jr. 1 Jimmy Sotos - 6'3" - Jr.
Myles Dread - 6'4" - So. 2 Andrew Funk - 6'5" - So.
Myreon Jones - 6'3" - So. 3 Avi Toomer - 6'3" - Sr.
Lamar Stevens - 6'8" - Sr. 4 Bruce Moore - 6'8" - Sr.
Mike Watkins - 6'9" - Sr. 5 Paul Newman - 6'9' - Jr.

Scouting report

The Bison are the second-highest ranked Patriot League team according to KenPom and could easily be 4-0. Their two losses have come by a total of five points, with their latest defeat coming basically at the buzzer.

They are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, knocking down over 41% of their shots from deep. Guards Jimmy Sotos, Andrew Funk, and Walter Ellis lead Bucknell on that front, with the trio shooting a combined 44% from three.

Forward John Meeks has been Bucknell's most complete scorer. The junior thrives as the Bison's sixth man, averaging 15.3 points per game on an efficient 46% shooting percentage. He does most of his damage in the paint but can connect from behind the arc if you give him the chance (7-14 on the season). He'll be a tough matchup for Lamar Stevens and could be dangerous if Stevens finds himself in foul trouble.

Senior forward Avi Toomer is a bit of a wildcard. He missed the first three games with an injury but dropped a career-high 20 points in his season debut last week. He hasn't been much of a scorer in his career up to this point, so that may just have been a flash in the pan. Where Toomer can kill teams, though, is on the defensive end, where he racked up a team-high 41 steals last season. He's the ultimate hustle player and a guy the Nittany Lions will always have to be conscious of.

Keys to the game

  • Penn State needs to force the Bison to take bad shots. Any team that shoots as well as Bucknell does from deep is always a threat to explode offensively. Jamari Wheeler is sure to do his part, but they'll need the rest of the frontcourt to play equally pesky defense.
  • The Nittany Lions don't necessarily need a big game out of Stevens, but it would be nice to see him bounce back a bit. Stevens heating up should lead to some more attention on the defensive end, freeing up another guard to get some open shots. The more confident shooters the Nittany Lions have, the better.
  • Bucknell is -5 in the turnover margin department. This should have Jamari Wheeler chomping at the bit. If the Nittany Lions can force bad passes and get to the rim in transition, the Lions could be on their way to another win.

Prediction

This just feels like the kind of game the Nittany Lions inexplicably struggle in. The Bison are going to knock down shots, which means Penn State is going to have to play efficient basketball on the offensive end. Mike Watkins should neutralize anything Bucknell tries to get going under the basket, but Pat Chambers will need a bigger performance out of him on the offensive end than what they got against Georgetown. Regardless, I think the Nittany Lions play pesky enough defense and Lamar Stevens does enough to get by, and Penn State's sharpshooters hit enough shots in what will be an otherwise sloppy game. The Nittany Lions improve to 4-0 on the season: Penn State 68, Bucknell 63

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