Penn State will host Nebraska for the first time since 1981 on Saturday at 1:00 PM inside the Bryce Jordan Center looking to break a season-high five-game losing streak.
The Cornhuskers (11-12, 3-9 Big Ten) fell below the .500 mark last time out in losing 62-46 against Michigan on Wednesday, and are in the midst of their own three-game losing streak. Nebraska did top Penn State 70-58 on Jan. 11 in Lincoln, however, in a game that was never very close.
The Nittany Lions (10-15, 2-0 Big Ten), meanwhile, are coming off a 77-57 thrashing at Michigan State on Wednesday that dropped them to a season-high five games below .500. Penn State hasn't earned a win since defeating Illinois on Jan. 19 at home.
Check out some things to watch for in the game below.
When Penn State has the ball...
-It took the Lions almost eight minutes to score against the Spartans on Wednesday. After getting on the board, Penn State played a competitive game, but that early hole was way too much to overcome on the road. Whatever this team's early jitters are (Penn State fell behind 16-2 to start the game at Iowa last Saturday) it has to try and overcome them against a fellow bad team at home. Otherwise, another frustrating loss probably awaits this team.
-Penn State was a horrific 3-of-24 from three-point territory against Nebraska last time, a signal not only of poor shooting but lazy offense. If Penn State expects to win, it has to work for some better shots this time around rather than settling for a high volume of shots the team has proven it can't make against the Huskers.
-One thing the Lions did do well in the first matchup was offensive rebound, earning a 12-4 margin on the offensive glass. Similar success at home will keep Penn State in the game at the very least and very likely give it a distinct advantage in this one.
When Nebraska has the ball...
-Only Bo Spencer's 19 points were of real note in the first matchup. If Penn State can do a better job slowing him down, it should be in pretty good shape. Of course, that's probably easier said than done, now that the Lions have seen this team and know what to expect defensively, expect Spencer to get a lot less room than he did the first time around.
-Penn State forced Nebraska into 16 turnovers on the road. If the Huskers cough it up that many times in this game, the Lions will be in excellent position, assuming they can make the most of the extra opportunities.
Nebraska didn't really play well the first time these two teams met. Penn State, more or less, gave up a lot of possessions by shooting an excessive number of three-pointers and missing most all of them. Better shot selection is an easy remedy for that, and the Lions have already shown themselves they can hang with this team by forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds. A smart effort will get the job done, and with Penn State finally back in the BJC, there's every reason to think the Lions will play some less stressful, intelligent basketball and break through for a much-needed win here. Pick: Penn State, 65-58