Hoop Preview — Long Island

<B>Penn State vs. Long Island <P>azcentral.com Holiday Classic <P>Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.</B>

Game Time: 6:30 p.m.

Records: Penn State 5-6; Long Island 4-5.

Coaches: Ed DeChellis is 14-25 in his second season at Penn State and 119-118 overall. Jim Ferry is 20-43 in two seasons at LIU and 124-62 overall.

Series: First meeting.

Last meeting: Did we mention this is the first meeting?

Last time out: State lost to Valparaiso (69-56) in the opening round of the tourney Tuesday. Arizona State handled Long Island (92-63) later in the evening.

TV: None

Radio: Penn State Sports Network (Steve Jones, Dick Jerardi).

Next up: Penn State faces Texas A&M at the Jordan Center Sunday. The Blackbirds play St. Francis in Loretto, Pa., Jan. 5.

Probable Starters:

Penn State — G Mike Walker, 6-2 Fr. (7.4 ppg), G Marlon Smith, 6-0 So. (10.1 ppg), F Geary Claxton, 6-5 Fr. (11.2 ppg), F Travis Parker, 6-5 Jr. (11.7 ppg), F Aaron Johnson, 6-8 Jr. (15.8 ppg).

Long Island — G Evin Meekins, 6.2 So. (6.9 ppg), G James Williams, 5-10 So. (14.4 ppg), G Aubin Scott, 6-2 Jr. (8.1 ppg), F Esa Maki-Tulokas, 6-7 So. (7.3 ppg), F Kellen Allen, 6-7 Fr. (6.8 ppg).

Quick Quiz: When was Penn State’s last loss to Northeast Conference team? The answer later.

Penn State Notes:

• The Lions trailed by as many as 24 points against Valpo before rallying late to save a bit of face. Thirteen first-half turnovers and a 4-of-20 shooting performance in the opening period did PSU in against the Crusaders. Said DeChellis: “We were just awful in every sense.”

• One bright spot for the Lions in the opening round of the tournament: Claxton. The freshman matched a career high with 17 points, 15 of them in the second half.

Johnson and Parker both had double-doubles vs. Valpo (points and rebounds). That was not entirely surprising considering State missed 45 shots (including free throws).

• Smith went 1 of 12 from the floor and 0 of 9 from the arc in the loss to Valpo. All told, PSU’s guards went 5 of 29 from the field.

• In losing four straight games, the Lions have allowed their opponents to make a collective 51 percent of their shots.

• Walker missed all but 16 minutes of the Valpo game with the flu. His status for tonight’s game is uncertain.

• Backup point guard Ben Luber filled in nicely for Walker, with seven points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.

Long Island Notes:

• Undersized LIU was outrebounded 42-28 in its loss to Arizona State. The Sun Devils had 16 offensive boards.

• Long Island entered the tournament leading the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (.227). Penn State’s struggled from distance of late, missing 16 straight at one point against Valpo on the way to a 5-of-28 showing.

• ASU went 8 of 10 from the arc in the first half against LIU, blowing open a 49-22 lead at the break.

• The Lions and Blackbirds have faced one common opponent — Lehigh. LIU beat the Mountain Hawks 66-56 at home. PSU beat Lehigh 73-64 at the BJC.

Quiz Answer: State’s only loss to an NEC team was against Loyola (Md.) at Rec Hall in 1986 (74-70).

FOS Prediction: Penn State 66, Long Island 65.

Comment: Difficult to pick the Lions after Tuesday’s turkey. But the Blackbirds are one of the few teams over which Penn State will enjoy size and experience advantages.

FOS Prediction Record: 5-6.


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