Opponent preview: What to know about Penn State

first_imgSyracuse (4-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) and Penn State (5-1) will close out its week at the NIT Season Tip-Off at 7 p.m. on Friday. Both teams lost their first game in the Barclays Center on Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions blew a 16-point halftime lead in a close loss to Ole Miss while the Orange lost by 14 to Oklahoma State. Below is what to know about Penn State ahead of the matchup.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 62-43Last time they played: This will be the first time the Orange have played the Nittany Lions since 1982. Syracuse won that meeting 69-68 and was led by Erich Santifer, who scored 16 points. The Penn State report: The Nittany Lions are a top-3o team in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com, and have only allowed more than 70 points once this season (against Ole Miss). The Nittany Lions have played mainly a seven or eight-man rotation thus far through the season and don’t have a player taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster. Still, Penn State will look to attack the basket often. Senior forward Lamar Stevens is averaging nearly a double-double with 17.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Mike Watkins, a senior forward, stands one inch taller than Stevens at 6-foot-9 and averages 11.3 points and 8 rebounds per game. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHow Syracuse beats OSU: For the Nittany Lions, success starts down low, which is exactly where Syracuse has struggled defensively so far this season. Syracuse needs a big day out of Bourama Sidibe in the middle of the 2-3 zone or perhaps a spot appearance from Jesse Edwards who flaunts a large wingspan and height advantage over Penn State’s forwards. Regardless, it’s going to be a struggle for Syracuse to limit the Nittany Lions offensively. In what will likely become the story of the year for SU, it just simply needs to shoot better than it did against Oklahoma State. Syracuse has defined itself as a 3-point shooting team. If those shots don’t fall, the Orange won’t win many games this year. Stat to know: 41.6%— Syracuse currently ranks 330th in the country in percentage of opponents’ scoring coming from 2-pointers. That might seem counterintuitive considering zone defenses typically yield 3-point shots, but SU has aggressively run shooters off the line instead of staying compact. This will come into play Friday as Penn State is mainly a two-point scoring team. Syracuse may be handing Penn State scoring opportunities in the exact spots the Nittany Lions want them. KenPom odds: Syracuse has a 45% chance to win the game Friday, with a final score prediction of the Nittany Lions winning 69-68 per KenPom.Player to watch: Stevens, Forward No. 11The image of Lamar Stevens rising to the hoop for an uncovered dunk could be replaying on SportsCenter all of Friday night. An All-Big Ten First Team selection last season, Stevens currently ranks fifth all-time in scoring at Penn State. In 2018-19, he scored in double digits in all but one game. Comments Published on November 29, 2019 at 2:35 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img