GAME NOTES: Two teams off to very different starts get together in Happy Valley tonight, as the Monmouth Hawks pay a visit to the Penn State Nittany Lions at part of the Barclays Classic.
Monmouth comes in sporting a disappointing 1-3 record, having suffered three straight defeats on the heels of an 88-84 season-opening win at Hofstra. The team's three subsequent setbacks came against Penn (79-73), Seton Hall (82-66) and St. John's (64-54), the last taking place on the road where the team is 1-2 thus far. Following this bout, the Hawks return home for three straight, beginning on Friday against Mississippi Valley State. They will kick off Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action versus Rider in the finale of that homestand on Dec. 5.
Penn State is riding a three-game win streak as it enters play this week, the team coming off a 93-67 rout of Longwood on Sunday. Prior to that, the Nittany Lions topped a pair of Philadelphia-based schools in Penn (83-71) and La Salle (79-72), and their other victory came in the season opener against Wagner (74-62). PSU's lone loss was a 90-80 decision vs. Bucknell at home on Nov. 13. The Lions head to Brooklyn this weekend to tangle with St. John's, and either Georgia Tech or Ole Miss.
Penn State won the only previous meeting between the two teams, whipping the Hawks in a 73-42 final at home on Nov. 21, 1997.
Despite boasting three double-digit scorers, one of whom (Deon Jones) nets 18.0 ppg, Monmouth has come up small more times than not this season. The team is averaging 70.2 ppg, but hitting just 37.9 percent of its total shots, which includes a 32.1 percent showing from 3-point range. Surprisingly, the Hawks are on the plus side of the ledger with regard to rebounding (+3.5) and turnovers (+0.5). At the other end, foes are hitting their shots at 46.2 percent, with 35.7 percent of their long-range launches finding the bottom of the net. In addition to Jones, who also heads the team's rebounding effort with 7.5 rpg, the Hawks have two others netting double figures on a consistent basis in Andrew Nicholas (13.0 ppg) and Justin Robinson (11.3 ppg).
Robinson was the lone double-digit scorer in the recent loss to St. John's, hitting for 15 points, while Tyrone O'Garro grabbed 12 of the team's 44 caroms in the contest. Overall, the Hawks shot just 33.9 percent from the field, missing the mark on 16 of their 18 3-point tries.
Penn State has one of the top backcourts in the Big Ten Conference, as D.J. Newbill (18.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.2 apg) and Tim Frazier (18.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.4 apg) have the ability to score pretty much at will, while also serving other valuable roles and providing veteran leadership, both on and off the court. Up front, the Nittany Lions rely on another pair of double-digit scorers in Brandon Taylor (14.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ross Travis (11.0 ppg), the latter of whom serves as the team's top rebounder with 8.0 caroms per contest. Overall, PSU is putting up 81.8 ppg while yielding 72.4 ppg. The club is shooting 48.6 percent from the floor, knocking down just shy of 40 percent of its 3-point attempts (.385).
Taylor and Newbill led the Lions in their recent win over Longwood, scoring 25 and 23 points, respectively, while Travis logged a double-double with 11 points and 13 boards. Frazier had an off night by his lofty standards, netting nine points, although he did hand out eight assists for a team that made good on 57.1 percent of its total shots while limiting the Lancers to 40.4 percent.
Expect the trends both teams have exhibited to this point to continue, as the Nittany Lions get solid efforts from their top players in giving the hometown faithful lots to cheer about.
Game Date and Time