Posted in Game Recaps, tagged Andrew Jones, Anthony D'Orazio, Billy Oliver, C.J. McCollum, DJ Jackson, Gabe Knutson, Jeff Brooks, Lehigh, Michael Ojo, Talor Battle, taran buie, Tim Frazier on November 14, 2010 |
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Official Box Score
It certainly wasn’t pretty at times, but the Nittany Lions hung tough and won their 6th consecutive season opener. In a game that was eerily similar to last weekend’s exhibition, Penn State displayed a pretty pathetic performance offensively in the first half (21 points, 0.69 PPP, 23.1% TO%, 23% eFG%), but they exploded out of their funk in the 2nd half and ran away with the ball game.
The four factor analysis shows that PSU won the game with their ridiculous rebounding advantage. I personally think that while the rebounding was superb, the Nittany Lions won the game with their stifling defense. C.J. McCollum, who was only held to single digit scoring 4 times in 33 games during his freshmen campaign, never got in any rhythm and finished with just 7 points on 3-11 shooting. Battle was matched up on McCollum for the majority of the game, but the rest of the team did a fantastic job providing help whenever he would penetrate. Gabe Knutson, Lehigh’s supposed 2nd best player, didn’t do anything, either, although I was not very impressed with his game. I thought he would be tougher down low, but PSU physically outmuscled him out of the paint. Knutson finished with just 4 points from the foul line and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes. It also should be noted that Michael Ojo, Lehigh’s senior captain and projected 3rd scorer, missed the game with an undisclosed illness.
While PSU’s final defensive numbers are pretty solid, they were even better before garbage time. According to Statsheet, the game was statistically over at 3:15, so I eliminated the last 3 minutes of the play-by-play and recalculated the statistics. With 3 minutes left in the game, Lehigh had just 44 points (17 in the 2nd half) and were scoring just 0.70 PPP on 37.5% eFG%. These are the kinds of defensive performances PSU is going to need to compete in conference play. They only forced the Hawks to turn it over on just 18.8% of their possessions (although Lehigh was solid at taking care of the ball last year), but Jeff Brooks was doing work on the interior with a career-high 5 blocks.
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- WHO: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
- WHERE: Bryce Jordan Center
- WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 PM
- TV: BigTenNetwork.com
- LINE: N/A
Lehigh is coming off their 2010 Patriot League Championship season, but they are not without players to replace from that squad. They lost 3 starters in Marquis Hall, Zahir Carrington, and Dave Buchberger, but they are returning their best player and reigning Patriot League Player of the Year, C.J. McCollum. McCollum burst onto the scene last season, averaging 19 points a game as a true freshman (while shooting 42% from 3!). Not to be overshadowed, Gabe Knutson had a great freshmen year himself for the Hawks (9.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG). Both McCollum and Knutson will become Lehigh’s 1-2 punch this season as they look to improve on their highly successful freshmen campaigns.
The Hawks have a lot of experience coming back, but there are many reserves who will be counted upon to become night in night out contributers. Michael Ojo was the Hawks’ sixth man last season, but the senior captain will be thrust into the starting lineup tonight. The athletic 6’4″ G averaged 6.8 PPG off the bench and has a versatile offensive game. There appears to be some competition for the starting PG spot between speedy senior Prentice Small and freshman Mackey McKnight. Coach Brett Reed has been hyping up McKnight’s preseason thus far, but I’d have to think he’ll stick with the senior, at least in the early going of the season.
The Hawks last season averaged 70.2 possessions per game. Offensively, the Hawks excelled at shooting the basketball, taking care of the basketball, and getting to the foul line. They actually were 9th in the country in 3Pt% at 40%, but 2 of their 4 shooters have graduated. Defensively, they protected the glass and didn’t send their opponents to the foul line. It’s tough to project exactly how the Hawks will ball this season, but the Nittany Lions’ defense will be tested tonight. The key obviously is slowing down and harassing McCollum all night. I have a feeling that Battle and McCollum will be getting into a Battle/Delaney-esque shoot-off.
- DJ Jackson, who suffered a slight quad strain in the exhibition, is ready to play tonight
- All 4 2011 verbal commitments put it in writing Wednesday
- Jarelle Reischel hopes to decide between Penn State, Seton Hall, and Rice this weekend
- Statsheet launched their new network. Be sure to bookmark HappyValleyBall.com
The Lions looked sloppy offensively, to say the least, in the exhibition Sunday. They can’t afford any lulls now, it’s the real season. Watching this team last year, though, and seeing the same tendencies already this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few stretches tonight where the Lions can’t score the ball. Defensively, the Lions have got to know where McCollum is at all times, obviously. They can’t let the Hawks get hot from downtown either. Lehigh is a pretty solid team (I already feel like underestimated them in my Schedule Breakdown), so I would be surprised if PSU wins handily tonight. I’ll take PSU at home in an entertaining, close affair – 74-68.
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