GAME NOTES: The Penn State Nittany Lions will play their final true road test of the season on Thursday as they visit Welsh-Ryan Arena for a Big Ten Conference bout with the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Wildcats will be looking to complete the season sweep after defeating PSU, 70-54, at the Bryce Jordan Center. Dave Sobolewski tallied 18 points to lead Northwestern, which held the Nittany Lions to 31.6 percent shooting from the floor in the contest. Despite the loss, PSU still holds a 26-15 all-time series lead over the Wildcats.
Penn State's triumph over Michigan at home was short-lived as it suffered a 73-44 loss at Minnesota on Saturday to drop to 1-15 in the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions have played tough in some instances during their miserable run through the Big Ten, but still only collected a single win. Coach Patrick Chambers's squad is one of the weakest in the Big Ten offensively with 61.4 ppg and is the worst defensively with an allowed average of 68.2 ppg.
D.J. Newbill has been the one bright spot of Penn State this season and although he tallied 15 points versus Minnesota, he went 2-of-16 from the floor to do so. The Nittany Lions trailed 16-0 before getting their first basket of the game over 11 minutes after tip-off. Minnesota poured in 50 percent of its field goal tries while PSU shot a mere 27.1 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 35. Newbill paces the team with 15.9 points and 4.1 assists per tilt while Jermaine Marshall contributed 15.2 points and 1.5 steals per game.
Bill Carmody's Wildcats had their hopes of their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament diminished by the injury bug this season. Playing with only seven scholarship players in recent action, Northwestern has lost six in a row. The Wildcats gave the Ohio State Buckeyes a scare in their last appearance on Feb. 28 before falling, 63-53. After celebrating Senior Night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern will have the tough task of challenging the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
The Wildcats led twice in the second half in their bout against OSU and held a 49-48 lead with just over four minutes left after Reggie Hearn drained a 3- pointer. Tre Demps led Northwestern with 14 points. Sobolewski finished with 13 after scoring a total of 12 in the previous three games -- all blowout losses. Hearn, who paces the squad with 13.6 ppg, finished with eight points while Kale Abrahamson and Alex Olah netted nine apiece. The Wildcats' Princeton style offense is producing only 60.8 ppg, but the slower tempo has limited their opponents to 63.0 ppg.
As both sides enter with atrocious records, they will be salivating at the sight of a winnable game. Northwestern is a very streaky team, but it found success against Penn State in the first encounter. The Nittany Lions will need to make some defensive adjustments to stop Carmody's offense or they will be swept for the fourth time this season.
Game Date and Time