Penn State at Nebraska Preview: LIONS TRAVEL TO LINCOLN LOOKING FOR PAYBACK

By Brad Peterson on February 23, 2021 at 1:03 pm
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© Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska Cornhuskers
5-15 (1-12 Big Ten)
Roster / Schedule
8 p.m. ET - Tuesday, February 23
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Lincoln, Nebraska
Watch Info: BTN I Gametracker
KenPom Rank: 117
Vegas Line: Penn State -6.5

Penn State (7-12, 4-11, No. 40 NET) heads west for a Tuesday tilt against Nebraska. The Lions have lost four in a row after dropping a 74-68 decision to No. 9 Iowa Sunday. When Myreon Jones hit a 3 with 12:18 remaining in the game to knot the score at 54, PSU had the Hawkeyes on the ropes. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions only made two more FGs the rest of the way as the Hawkeyes pulled away for the win. Once again, scoring was the issue, as the blue and white only managed 36% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. Jones and Izaiah Brockington paced Penn State’s scoring with 11 points each. Myles Dread added 10 and has been in double figures in two of three games since being inserted into the starting lineup.

Nebraska (5-15, 1-12, No. 146 NET) has lost three straight games since the Valentine’s Day win in Happy Valley, twice to Maryland and 75-58 to Purdue on Saturday. Much like the script for the PSU loss, the Huskers were within three with 10 minutes to play when Purdue used a 19-4 run to put the game away. Shamiel Stevenson led the Huskers with 10 points off the bench, the only player in double figures.

It was just a little over a week ago when the Huskers drove a dagger through the Nittany Lions NCAA Tournament chances with a 62-61 victory, snapping a 25-game losing streak in league play. Teddy Allen led Nebraska with 14 points, including the game-winning layup with 12 seconds left. Trey McGowens had 10 and Kobe Webster chipped in 13 off the bench.

Penn State is 2-7 all-time in Lincoln, but did win76-64 there last year on Feb. 1 behind 14 from Myles Dread and 13 from Myreon Jones. Hopefully they can channel some of that same mojo a year later.

Projected Starters
Penn State   Nebraska
Jamari Wheeler - 6'1" - Sr. 1 Trey McGowens – 6’4” – Jr.
Myreon Jones - 6'3" - Jr. 2 Teddy Allen – 6’6” – Jr.
Izaiah Brockington – 6’4” – Jr. 3 Derrick Walker – 6’8” – Jr.
Myles Dread 6'4" - Jr. 4 Dalano Banton – 6’9” – So.
John Harrar - 6'9" - Sr. 5 Lat Mayen – 6’9” – Jr.

Scouting Report

Not much has changed in the scouting report from the last game. The Huskers are still offensively challenged. They use their length and athleticism to get into passing lanes, averaging 7.4 steals a game. Limit turnovers and make Nebraska play in the half-court and they will struggle.

WVU-transfer Teddy Allen leads the Huskers in scoring at 16.5 PPG, sixth in B1G play. Allen is a volume scorer but can be inconsistent. He loves to attack the rim, as he did when hitting the game-winner last time the two teams met.

Dalano Banton does everything for the Huskers, scoring 10.4 PPG and leading the team with 6.5 rebounds per game and 4.5 assists per game. As a 6’9” point guard he is a match-up nightmare. As Banton goes, so go the Huskers. So, neutralize him and the entire team struggles.

Kobe Webster played a big part in the Huskers win over the Lions with 13 points off the bench. Webster scored 1,400 points at Western Illinois before transferring to Nebraska, so he knows how to score. He is one of five Huskers who shoot 35% or better from behind the arc. Over half his shot attempts this season are 3s so playing him tight at the arc is critical.

Keys to the game

  • Win the second half. The Nittany Lions have been plagued by second half collapses all season, usually the result of a long scoring drought. PSU has only won the second half seven times this year, but they are 4-3 when doing so. To pick up the W the Lions need to not panic when a few shots don’t fall, avoid the long stretches of not scoring and the victory will be within reach.
  • Race. Space. Pace. Penn State plays best when playing fast. The Lions need to try to speed up Nebraska and keep their foot on the accelerator. Use the 1-2-2 press to look for steals and layups. When forced into half-court sets, they need to have good spacing and keep the ball moving. Becoming stagnant has become their worst enemy. If PSU can control the pace, they have a very good chance at coming home with the W.
  • Own the glass. To get out and run Penn State needs to rebound. Nebraska outrebounded PSU in the last meeting, despite John Harrar’s 11 rebounds. Everyone needs to crash the boards to negate Nebraska’s length. This is a team that doesn’t have great size so get a body on someone, grab the carom, and get the break started.

Prediction

Both Nebraska and Penn State are struggling. That much is obvious. The Lions have shown signs of life the past two games even though both resulted in a loss and they can’t possibly play as bad as they did in the first match-up with the Huskers, can they? I vowed not to pick the blue and white to win another game, but I’ll go against my better judgement and guess the Lions will be six points better than the last time the two teams met and avenge the earlier loss to Nebraska.

Penn State 67 Nebraska 62

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