Penn State will travel to face Nebraska in Lincoln on Wednesday when the two teams meet for the first time as conference foes at 8:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
The Cornhuskers (8-7, 0-4) are still looking to get on the board with a victory in their new conference. They opened their conference schedule with a brutal stretch of losses against ranked Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State squads before falling against Illinois on Saturday. Their signature win remains a 64-61 double-overtime victory against USC on Nov. 14.
The Nittany Lions (9-8, 1-3), meanwhile, are coming off a pair of strong performances, splitting home games against Purdue and Indiana. Last time out, they shot 45.8 percent, hit 21-25 free throws and turned the ball over just nine times in falling 88-82 against the Hoosiers. If not for 16 Indiana 3-pointers, Penn State would have had a real shot at knocking off the new No. 8 ranked team in the country.
Here are some things to look for in the game.
When Penn State has the ball...
-Penn State was great from the foul line against the Hoosiers, but struggled in road games at Michigan and Northwestern to open the conference slate. It'll be interesting to see if the Lions can take their momentum at the line from Sunday to the road with them.
-Forwards Ross Travis and Jonathan Graham were active against Indiana, putting up eight points each and grabbing six and three rebounds, respectively. If the two can have similar performances against the Huskers, it could really open up the floor for leading scorers Tim Frazier and Jermaine Marshall.
-The Lions did well to limit their turnovers last time out. Do that again in this game, and they'll have a real chance to win.
When Nebraska has the ball...
-Obviously, perimeter defense was an issue against Indiana, a team with shooters at almost every spot on the floor. The Huskers lack any consistent threats beyond Dylan Talley, who hits from the arc at 40 percent, but there's no reason to leave them open shots and an opportunity to get hot, either. Making rotations and contesting the deep balls better this time will be an area Penn State should try to improve, regardless of the quality of the opponent.
-Bo Spencer (14.6 points per game), Jorge Brian Diaz (10.7) and Toney McCray (10.5) are the big scorers for Nebraska. Shutting one of them down will give Penn State an excellent chance to win, as the Huskers are definitely offensively challenged.
-Penn State forced 16 turnovers last time out. Similar defensive intensity on the road would be helpful.
Even on the road, this is a team Penn State should beat and has to beat if it has any postseason aspirations whatsoever. The Lions have been playing some solid basketball lately, especially offensively, and if they play like they did in the last two games at home, they'll have an excellent chance in this one. If they fall back into their bad road habits from the Michigan and Northwestern losses, however, this will turn into a dog fight. Don't look for that to happen, though. Coach Patrick Chambers finally has this team playing with confidence, and for that reason, Penn State should take care of business in this one. Pick: Penn State 68-58