One month in and still looking for their first road win (they’ve only had two chances). Following a fast-paced game in Atlantic City in which the Nittany Lions were out-gunned, Chambers and Co. will need to right the ship before the team heads south for another difficult match-up against Alabama.
The last time Penn State traveled to the Palumbo Center to face the Dukes, they lost (edit: the game will be played at PPG Paints Arena, not Palumbo). A bounce-back game from Lamar Stevens should prevent that from happening again.
There is some optimism surrounding Duquesne and head coach Keith Dambrot, now in his second year at the helm. Dambrot replaced Jim Ferry who is now an assistant on Pat Chambers staff. This will be Ferry’s first time facing his old team. The Dukes two losses this year have come against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Against the former they stayed close, ultimately falling 67-56 in South Bend. Penn State is their third and final chance to nab a win against a major conference opponent.
Duquesne will be without their leading scorer, center Michael Hughes, which should open things up for Mike Watkins in a potential break-out game. Sophomore wingman Eric Williams Jr. can do a bit of everything, averaging 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and shooting 45% from beyond the arc.
Sincere Carry, a true freshman point guard, has been impressive thus far through his first ten games of collegiate hoops. He can score (10.1 ppg), pass (6.1 apg), and boasts a higher steal rate than either Josh Reaves or Jamari Wheeler (5.33% of opponents possessions). Watching him and Wheeler go against each other should be a treat.
Mike Watkins – With Duquesne’s starting center likely out for this game, it seems like the prime candidate for Watkins to remind us all what he’s truly capable of on both ends of the court. Chambers has been easing the big man back into the lineup, and there might be cause to limit his minutes with Friday’s game against Alabama looming, but Mike shouldn’t need many minutes to fill up the stat sheet in this one.
Turnover Battle – The aforementioned match-up between Jamari Wheeler and Sincere Carry will be a highlight, but in general this is a game between two teams that are skilled at forcing turnovers. Penn State will need to limit the unforced errors, and take care of the ball if they want to get out of Pittsburgh with the win.
Lamar Stevens – Saturday’s performance was not his best, as early foul trouble prevented the star player from ever finding his rhythm. Stevens has shown the ability to respond in a positive way after an outing like he had against NC State, so I’d look for him to start the game heavily involved on offense. I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll have at least half the team’s points at the first media timeout.
Nothing comes easy for Penn State basketball, and a hungry Duquesne squad with some talent will test the Nittany Lions for a half. Ultimately, Penn State will get the upper-hand, but not in a runaway fashion. Penn State 73, Duquesne 63