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Penn State Basketball Preview: Jacksonville State

Following a season opening 87-72 victory over the North Florida Ospreys, Pat Chambers and the Penn State Nittany Lions welcome the Jacksonville State Gamecocks to the Bryce Jordan Center tonight. The 0-1 Gamecocks come into the game on the heels of a 92-72 loss against Samford to begin their 2018-2019 campaign.

Hailing from the Ohio Valley Conference, the Gamecocks were the preseason pick as conference champions be the other coaches in the conference. So, despite their season opening loss, do not overlook the Gamecocks. This is a team that could very well go dancing come March.

JSU shot 38.6% from the field in their loss against Samford, and 30.8% from three point range. 6-foot-7 senior Jason Burnell led the Gamecocks in scoring with 16 points against Samford. Center Ty Hudson, and guards Marlon Hunter and Christian Cunningham each scored in double digits for JSU as well.

Bench Scoring – 57 of the 72 points Jacksonville State scored against Samford came from their starters with their leading bench scorer, Jamall Gregory, contributing just 5 points. It’s not like JSU didn’t use their bench either, as their bench players combined to play 82 minutes against Samford. If the Nittany Lions can slowdown the Gamecock starters, JSU may have a lot of trouble scoring.

The Young Guns – Freshmen Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton both flashed for the Nittany Lions in their victory over North Florida. Dread shot 50% from behind the arc in a 17 point performance against UNF in his first career start. Coming off the bench, Bolton was 3/5 shooting, including a pair of 3s, in a 13 point performance. He also had a strong 6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Dread and Bolton are the future of Penn State Basketball, and that future looks bright.

Defense In The Paint – Burnell and Hudson are both big guys capable of scoring for JSU. This will put the defense of John Harrar and Trent Buttrick under the microscope. Harrar and Buttrick combined for nine rebounds and three blocks against UNF and both looked good defensively. The Nittany Lions will need a strong outing from the duo that is filling in for Mike Watkins once again tonight.

Jacksonville State may be the best team in the Ohio Valley Conference, but the OVC is not the Big Ten. As Chris T. wrote about while previewing the season opener against North Florida one area Penn State needs to improve this year is quickly putting away teams they’re more talented than. They did this against UNF and will do it against JSU, too. Penn State 82, Jacksonville State 57

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