Penn State will look to stave off its third loss of the week on Saturday when it travels to face Duquesne at 7:00 P.M. inside Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center.
Following losses against Mississippi on Sunday and Lafayette on Wednesday, the Nittany Lions have fallen to 6-4 on the season with just three games left before conference play begins on Dec. 29 against Michigan. The Dukes, meanwhile, are 5-4 and losers of three of their past five games, including a 64-60 setback against Robert Morris on Tuesday night.
For both squads, Saturday's game will be an opportunity to rebuild some momentum heading into the final push of their respective non-conference schedules.
Here are some things to watch for from the Penn State side of the equation.
When Penn State has the ball...
-It should go without saying, but leading scorer Tim Frazier has to improve on the 0-for-12 effort he put forth against Lafayette. As he goes, so goes the team, and though some players, especially Jermaine Marshall and Ross Travis, did a nice job picking up the slack against the Leopards with 20 and 12 points respectively, the Lions won't get far if Frazier struggles dramatically in this one.
-Foul shooting really did Penn State in against Lafayette. As a team, the Lions were 16-26 from the charity stripe, good for just over 61 percent. A couple of easy ones and Penn State would have at least seen overtime against the Leopards. Instead, they dropped a game they expected to have. Will they use the Duquesne game as an opportunity to say "lesson leadned?"
-Penn State earned a whopping 20-4 advantage on the offensive glass against Lafayette. Do that against Duquesne and the Lions will be in business.
When Duquesne has the ball...
-The Lions, who've given up 20 three-pointers in their last two games, will have to keep an eye on the sharp shooting T.J. McConnell. If they give him too much room to shoot, he has the range to shoot them right out of the Dukes' new gym.
-Penn State's turnover production, finely tuned in the season's first few games, fell off to 10 forced turnovers against Lafayette. For an offensively-challenged team that needs extra possessions to win games, Penn State needs to do better than that moving forward.
-Sean Johnson is Duquesne's big scorer, averaging 16.3 points per game. He's a guy the Lions have to be aware of, too.