Hoop Preview — Northwestern

<B>Penn State vs. Northwestern <P>Bryce Jordan Center</B> <P><B>Game Time:</B> 4 p.m., Saturday <P><B>Records:</B> Penn State 6-10, 0-3; Northwestern 8-8, 1-3.

Ed DeChellis Audio (WMV)

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Coaches: Ed DeChellis is 15-30 in his second season at Penn State and 120-123 overall. Bill Carmody is 61-72 in his fifth season at Northwestern and 153-97 overall.

Series: Penn State leads, 15-10.

Last meeting: Northwestern edged Penn State 57-52 in the Big Ten tournament last March.

Last time out: Penn State fell to Michigan (66-62) at the BJC last Saturday. Northwestern lost to No. 1 Illinois (78-66) the same day. Both teams had midweek byes.

TV: espn2 (Dr. Jerry Punch, Tim McCormick).

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

Next up: Penn State is off to Ohio State Wednesday. Northwestern plays host to Iowa the same night.

Probable Starters:

Penn State — G Ben Luber, 6-0 So. (6.6 ppg), G Mike Walker, 6-2 Fr. (6.1 ppg), F Geary Claxton, 6-5 Fr. (11.7 ppg), F Travis Parker, 6-5 Jr. (12.2 ppg), F Aaron Johnson, 6-8 Jr. (14.7 ppg).

Northwestern — G Mohamed Hachad, 6-4 Jr. (6.9 ppg), G T.J. Parker, 6-2 Jr. (10.3 ppg), F Vedran Vukusic, 6-8 Jr. (16.9 ppg), F Davor Duvancic, 6-8 Sr. (7.5 ppg), C Mike Thompson, 6-10 Jr. (11.9 ppg).

Quick Quiz: Which team won the first game between Penn State and Northwestern? The answer later.

Penn State Notes:

• PSU shooting guard Morrissey hurt his right (shooting) shoulder during a collision in practice early in the week. That’s not good news for a player who has made 2 of his last 16 triples. He is expected to play today.

• With starting guard Marlon Smith lost for the season due to illness, DeChellis may be forced to use the 240-pound Travis Parker on the perimeter at times for the rest of the year. And that will likely mean seeing more of rookie Brandon Hassell at power forward.

• State is down to 11 healthy players, nine of them on scholarship. That means assistant coaches James Johnson is being pulled into five-on-five scout-team situations in practice.

• This is Penn State’s only regular-season national TV appearance this year. Seems every season, the Big Ten kills two birds with one stone by pairing league bottom-dwellers PSU and Northwestern in this awful espn2 time slot.

• The Lions can’t catch a break this season. A snow storm is expected to pelt Happy Valley Saturday, which will more than likely keep the crowd way down. Not a good thing for prospects to see on the tube.

• Five of the 25 games in this series have gone to overtime. The Lions are 3-2 in those games.

• In Big Ten games only, PSU ranks last in the league in scoring offense (61.5), scoring defense (80.8) and — as you might imagine — scoring margin (-19.2).

• Though the Lion roster is filled with new faces, it’s not like they haven’t seen a Princeton-style offense like Northwestern’s before. Georgetown, which beat PSU 66-53 Dec. 6, runs a similar offense.

• Stat watch: If Penn State is trailing at the half, head for the exits. The Lions have rallied from a half-time deficit to win only once (in 10 tries) this season.

Northwestern Notes:

• When Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93, it went on to win 11 of the next 12 meetings between the two teams. NU has reversed that trend now, winning five of the last six. It marks the Wildcats’ best run against a Big Ten team since going 8-1 against Wisconsin from 1967-73.

• T.J. Parker had 18 assists and only six turnovers in three career games against Penn State.

• Thompson, a junior transfer from Duke, did not become eligible until mid-December. He has played in only 10 games.

• Northwestern is 0-4 in road games this year.

• Stat Watch: Northwestern is 1-8 when trailing at the half this season. Is there any sense even playing the second half of this one?

Quiz Answer: The Wildcats stomped PSU 41-17 in Evanston in 1928. State won the first Big Ten game between the two teams, 70-68, at Rec Hall in 1993.

FOS Prediction: Penn State 65, Northwestern 60.

Comment: A late flurry will help the Lions put the Wildcats into a deep freeze.

FOS Prediction Record: 11-6.


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