Men’s Basketball: Penn State To Clash With Duquesne at Home
Penn State will face another intrastate foe tonight when it takes on Duquesne at the Bryce Jordan Center at 9 p.m. The Nittany Lions (7-1) are off to their best start since 2000-2001, but will face a challenge against the Dukes (3-2), who boast one of the best offenses in the country statistically. The Dukes are coming off a 76-62 loss to neighborhood rival Pitt, but Duquesne is tops in 3-point percentage (45.8 percent), and 15th in the country in points per game (83.4).
The Lions have had to battle to get off to such a hot start. Throughout the course of its current six game winning streak, Penn State has not defeated a team by double digits, and has often had to rely on late free throw shooting to secure its victories.
Coach Patrick Chambers said that he expects more of the same against Duquesne. The Philly-native compared the match-up to a Big 5 game — intra-city match ups between the top schools in Philadelphia such as Villanova and St. Joseph’s — calling Wednesday’s game a rivalry.
“I treat it like a Big 5 game. It’s an instate rivalry game, it’s always been a dog fight,” Chambers said. “Every time we play Jimmy Ferry’s team. He’s a great coach. They’re a lot better. I just watched some of the game versus Pitt, that was a battle. I expect another hard-fought, down-to-the-last-four-minutes type of game that hopefully we can find a way.”
The Lions have relied heavily on D.J. Newbill up to this point in the season. He is averaging 23.3 points per game, best in the Big Ten and fourth in the nation, and also leads the conference in minutes played. He was able to get some relief as Brandon Taylor and John Johnson each stepped up with 17 points apiece against Marshall on Saturday.
Even with better distribution, the Lions will stick to their calling card and rely on tough defense against the Dukes, especially around the perimeter. Duquesne’s shooting numbers appear inflated at this point in the season with its best offensive performances coming against the likes of Bluefield State, Abilene Christian, and Howard, and at least two of those schools you’ll probably have to Google.
Still, junior guard Derrick Colter is killing teams from behind the arc, averaging 11.8 points on 64 percent 3-point shooting, best in the country. Fellow junior Micah Mason is also a serious threat from deep, averaging 12 points on 53 percent from deep. Penn State will have to be quick to close out, like they were against another dangerous shooting team in Virginia Tech. The Hokies, one of the best shooting teams in the country at the time, shot just 38.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from behind the arc against the Lions last week. Virginia Tech had to find ways to score inside to keep things close.
Despite early success for his squad, Chambers is hardly comfortable. The Lions are four games away from the start of conference play, where they’ll open against No. 5 Wisconsin.
“I feel like we have a lot of room for growth,” Chambers said. “I feel we have leadership and great veterans and that’s why you’re winning games and we’re making plays in the last four minutes to have that 8-1 record. But through the course of a 40-minute game, there’s still a lot of habits we need to work on.”
Tonight’s game will be aired on the Big Ten Network at 9 p.m.