PSU Hoop Preview: Michigan

<B>Penn State vs. Michigan <P>Bryce Jordan Center</B> <P><B>Game Time:</B> 12:17 p.m. <P><B>Records:</B> Penn State 6-10, 0-3; Michigan 11-5, 2-0.

Danny Morrissey Interview

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Coaches: Ed DeChellis is 15-29 in his second season at Penn State and 120-122 overall. Tommy Amaker is 62-47 in four years at Michigan and 130-102 overall.

Series: Michigan leads 15-8.

Last meeting: The Wolverines blasted the Lions 76-53 in Ann Arbor last February.

Last time out: Penn State was hammered at Illinois (90-64) Wednesday. Michigan took a home tilt from Northwestern (71-61) the same night.

TV: ESPN-Plus (Dick Bremer, Tim McCormick, Link Title >Clearances).

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

Next up: Penn State gets a bye Wednesday before playing host to Northwestern next Saturday. Michigan is at Indiana Wednesday.

Refs: Sid Rodeheffer, J.D. Collins, John Yorkovich.

Probable Starters:

Penn State — G Ben Luber, 6-0 So. (6.0 ppg), G Danny Morrissey, 6-3 Fr. (6.6 ppg), F Geary Claxton, 6-5 Fr. (11.6 ppg), F Travis Parker, 6-5 Jr. (11.8 ppg), F Aaron Johnson, 6-8 Jr. (14.9 ppg).

Michigan — G Dion Harris, 6-3 So. (13.6 ppg), G Daniel Horton, 6-3 Jr. (12.8 ppg), F Ron Coleman, 6-6 Fr. (7.4 ppg), F J.C. Mathis, 6-8 Sr. (1.8 ppg), C Courtney Sims, 6-11 So. (11.0 ppg)

Quick Quiz: When was Penn State’s last win against Michigan?

Penn State Notes:

• Starting guard Marlon Smith (11.8 ppg) will miss his third straight game due to an unspecified illness. He is hospitalized at the Hershey Medical Center. DeChellis said Smith and his family would like to keep the matter private. There is no timetable set for a return. Morrissey will continue starting in Smith’s place (see video file below).

• Penn State has gotten a total of 59 points from its guards in three Big Ten games. By comparison, Illinois received 51 points from its backcourt in a single game against PSU.

• Claxton has lifted his game since Big Ten play began. The true freshman leads the Lions in scoring (16.7 ppg), rebounding (5.3 rpg), blocks (6) and steals (3) in conference action. He is shooting 52 percent from the floor, too.

• Time for Johnson to step up his performance. Big Ten opponents have missed 90 total shots against the Lions. Johnson, usually a rebounding force, has grabbed exactly three of those misses. Even Luber, a thin 6-footer, has eight defensive rebounds in league play.

• Stat Watch: Penn State’s average halftime deficit in the Big Ten? 41-28.

Michigan Notes:

• Michigan is in the middle of a five-game winning streak, during which time it has beaten its opponents by an average margin of 15 points per game.

• Horton missed four weeks with an injured knee but has been terrific since returning three games ago. He averaged 15.3 points per game in those outings while shooting 64 percent for the floor and 57 percent from the arc.

• The Wolverines have beaten two ranked opponents this year: at Iowa (65-63, Jan. 5) and vs. Notre Dame (61-60, Dec. 4).

• Stat Watch: Michigan leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (40.1).

Quiz Answer: The Lions beat the Wolverines in a thriller (82-80) in the first round of the 2001 Big Ten tournament. The win was huge for two reasons. First, it locked up an NCAA tournament bid, which the Lions parlayed into a Sweet 16 appearance. It also (in all probability) saved then-coach Jerry Dunn’s job.

FOS Prediction: Michigan 66, Penn State 60

Comment: The Lions will be motivated. But they’re just too thin to claw past a deep outfit like Michigan.

FOS Prediction Record: 10-6.


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