|Wright State Raiders|
3-1 (0-0 Horizon)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
8:30 p.m. ET – Tuesday, Nov. 20
HARD ROCK HOTEL RIVIERA MAYA
|Watch Info: CBS Sports | GAMETRACKER|
|KenPom Rank: 128|
|Vegas Line: PSU -7|
Penn State’s overtime loss at DePaul on Thursday night has to feel like a missed opportunity. The Nittany Lions clawed back from a perpetual second-half deficit and nearly won the game in regulation, but much like Rasir Bolton’s layup attempt as the 2nd half buzzer rang out, the comeback fell short.
One road loss to a top-100 opponent does not a season make however, and the Lions can regroup and potentially bring home some hardware before Thanksgiving in the Cancun Challenge. Their first opponent, Wright State, is equipped with the personnel to take advantage of Penn State’s holes as presented thus far in 2018-19. Can the Nittany Lions pull it together and advance to the final on Wednesday evening?
|Jamari Wheeler – 6’1″ – Soph.||1||Cole Gentry – 5’10” – Jr.|
|Myles Dread – 6’4″ – Fr.||2||Mark Hughes – 6’4″ – Sr.|
|Josh Reaves – 6’5″ – Sr.||3||Bill Wampler – 6’6″ – Jr.|
|Lamar Stevens – 6’8″ – Jr.||4||Loudon Love – 6’9″ – Soph.|
|John Harrar – 6’8″ – Soph.||5||Parker Ernsthausen – 6’11” – Sr.|
Penn State finally felt the absence of Mike Watkins on Thursday evening. DePaul shot 59.5% from two-point range without a shot-blocking presence to stop the Blue Demons’ three big men, who combined to shoot 13-17 on the inside. Penn State was also outrebounded thoroughly. Pat Chambers is going to have to figure out a plan until Watkins is able to return.
Speaking of big men, Wright State’s got a big man to be reckoned with. Sophomore Loudon Love has been nothing shy of dominant in the Raiders’ first four games, averaging 16.5 points per contest on 64% shooting. Standing 6’9″ and weighing in at 280 lbs, Love will present a major challenge for John Harrar and makeshift backup Trent Buttrick, and based on the DePaul result Chambers will probably have to get creative with double teams.
The Raiders are also experienced in the backcourt. Mark Hughes and Cole Gentry each played 30+ minutes per game in 2018 and are as steady as they come on the mid-major level. Gentry in particular has made a hot start to the season with 30 points on 15 shots against Toledo in Wright State’s best win thus far. He might not even be the best shooter on the roster however – that honor belongs to Drake transfer Billy Wampler, who leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game on 44% from deep.
Keys to the Game
It’s hard to stress just how crucial Penn State’s adjustments on the interior will be after two sub-par efforts against Jacksonville State and DePaul. Defending the post will be important against Love, of course, but the battle on the glass will be just as crucial. Wright State has been an adept rebounding team in both of Scott Nagy’s first two seasons at the helm, and that hasn’t changed this season. They’re allowing offensive rebounds on just 22.1% of their defensive possessions. Penn State’s perimeter defense has been as good as it can be (opponents have made 11 threes in three games), but they’ll need to shore up the interior in a big way tonight.
Historically, this is a game that Penn State loses. Wright State is a mid-major, yes, but this is an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. They’re well coached and matchup well against the Nittany Lions. Barring another game-changing outburst from Bolton, this feels like a classic pre-season tournament opening round loss for this program. Wright State 72, Penn State 68.