Hoop Preview @ Northwestern

<B>Penn State @ Northwestern <P>Welsh-Ryan Arena</B> <P><B>Game Time:</B> <B>2:30 p.m., Saturday.</B>

Records: Penn State 7-17, 1-10; Northwestern 12-12, 4-7.

Coaches: Ed DeChellis is 16-36 in his second season at Penn State and 121-128 overall. Bill Carmody is 65-76 in five years at Northwestern and 157-101 in nine years overall.

Series: Penn State leads, 16-10.

Last meeting: The Lions beat the Wildcats 65-62 at the Jordan Center Jan. 22. It is Penn State’s only win in the last dozen games.

Last time out: Penn State was handled by No. 1 Illinois (83-63) at the BJC Wednesday. NU stepped out of conference to beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi at home Monday.

TV: ESPN-Plus via WTAJ locally (Jim Barbar, Mike Kelley).

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

Next up: The Lions are at Michigan Wednesday. Northwestern is at Illinois the same night.

Probable Starters:

Penn State — G Ben Luber, 6-0 So. (5.8 ppg), G Mike Walker, 6-2 Fr. (6.9 ppg), F Geary Claxton, 6-5 Fr. (12.5 ppg), F Travis Parker, 6-5 Jr. (11.8 ppg), F Aaron Johnson, 6-8 Jr. (12.8 ppg).

Northwestern — G Michael Jenkins, 5-9 Sr. (4.5 ppg), G T.J. Parker, 6-2 Jr. (10.2 ppg), F Vedran Vukusic, 6-8 Jr. (17.0 ppg), F Davor Duvancic, 6-8 Sr. (7.5 ppg), C Vince Scott, 6-10 So. (3.1 ppg).

Quick Quiz: Who was Penn State’s leading scorer the last time it won at Northwestern?

Penn State Notes:

• After Johnson and Parker offered little defensive effort against Illinois, do not be surprised if DeChellis sends a message by benching his starting post players for this game. What better way to do it than starting seniors Kevin Fellows and Jason McDougald, who both played with heart against the Illini despite being obviously overmatched.

• Penn State has lost 29 straight Big Ten road games. Including conference tournament action, the Nittany Lions have dropped 32 consecutive league outings away from the BJC. Penn State’s last Big Ten road win was at Iowa (78-73) in the next to last game of the 2000-01 regular season.

• Stat watch: In conference games only, Penn State ranks last in the league in field-goal percentage offense (37.9) and defense (48.8).

Northwestern Notes:

• Think this is a great chance for PSU to break the league road losing streak? Think again. NU is 20-6 at Welsh-Ryan the past two seasons and 48-23 there under Carmody.

• Center Mike Thompson, a Duke transfer, missed the previous game between the two teams because he was skipping classes. He is doubtful for Saturday’s matchup due to a sprained foot.

• Stat Watch: The Wildcats have had assists on 69.3 of their baskets this year, second best in the nation according to Stats, Inc., and a testament to their teamwork.

Quiz Answer: Jarrett Stephens had 22 in an 82-49 blowout at Welsh-Ryan in 2000. State has lost three straight in Evanston since.

FOS Prediction: Northwestern 65, Penn State 55.

Comment: The Wildcats are a different team at home. The Lions are struggling no matter where they play.

FOS Prediction Record: 17-7.

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