Penn State will face Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night when the teams meet for a 9:15 p.m. clash at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions won a 62-54 Challenge decision against the Eagles in Chestnut Hill last season.
Penn State (3-2) is coming off a 60-57 win against previously undefeated Bucknell last Friday. In the Lions' first full game without All-Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier, freshman forward Brandon Taylor came off the bench to score 16 points on 6-11 shooting.
Boston College, meanwhile, enters at 2-4 on the season and a loser of four of its last five. Last time out, the Eagles fell, 56-54 against Bryant out of the Northeast Conference.
Here are some keys for the Lions as they look to deliver a win for the Big Ten.
When Penn State has the ball
Brandon Taylor -- The freshman took the Bison by surprise last weekend but the Eagles have had time to prepare for him. Boston College will probably be less inclined to double D.J. Newbill and leave Taylor open on the wing as Bucknell did, but that means Taylor needs to prove he's worth the attention. If he can, that will free up Newbill to make a few more plays than he did Friday.
Better use of the foul line -- Without Tim Frazier, Penn State is simply going to have nights where it's tough to get momentum going from the field. That means it needs to do much better than the 9-20 performance at the foul line that it gave against Bucknell. If there's a sure-fire wake to make an offensively-challenged team worse, it's to give up the free ones. The Lions need to do a better job here against BC.
Solid offensive rebounding -- Penn State pounded Bucknell on the offensive boards, 14-3. Jonathan Graham and Sasa Borovnjak combined for just six points against the Bison, but they did snag five of those offensive boards and helped generate the extra possessions the Lions needed in a close contest. Penn State's bigs need to take advantage of BC's limited size in a similar fashion.
When Boston College has the ball
Perimeter defense -- Penn State hit more triples than its opponent for the first time against Bucknell thanks to some improved defense of the arc. For a team without a lot of dynamite 3-point shooting of its own, this is an important development. If the Lions can compensate for their own shortcomings by limiting opponents from deep, it'll be a big boost.
Turnover battle -- Boston College has 50 more turnovers than it does steals this season, which means Penn State can afford to be aggressive defensively and still finish the night with a positive turnover margin. If the Eagles are unable to generate their own extra possessions in their defensive end, than the best way to exploit that is for Newbill and Jermaine Marshall to take some gambles up top in the interest of burying BC with its own errors.