Starting Five: Nittany Lions Return Home to Face Army

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (4-4) will look to make it two-straight victories in the Bryce Jordan Center when the Lions take on Army (4-3) Saturday at 4 p.m.

Penn State defeated Penn last Saturday in the BJC before falling on the road in The Palestra against La Salle on Wednesday.  Get ready for Saturday's clash with Army here:

8388739.jpegDefending the Arc
Penn State fell victim to a red-hot perimeter shooting night against La Salle on Wednesday night.  The Explorers drained 16 of their 31 3-point attempts en route to a 48-9 edge over the Nittany Lions from beyond the arc.  It goes without saying that Penn State must do a better job closing out on the perimeter shooters against Army.  Give La Salle credit for making 16 threes, but the Lions need to play better defense on the outside against an Army team that went 15-for-30 from 3-point range in its win over Marist on Wednesday night.

Rebounding
Coach Chambers knows his team needs to rebound and defend to put itself in a position to win every night.  Those two items will be direct correlations to the Nittany Lions winning or losing basketball games throughout the 2012-13 season.  In Penn State's four wins, the Lions are a combined +27 in rebounding.  In the four losses, the Nittany Lions are -2 in rebounding.  Jon Graham, Sasa Borovnjak and Ross Travis are the three big keys for Penn State's rebounding success.

Early Shooting
Arguably, Penn State played its best offensive half of the season on Wednesday night at The Palestra, shooting 57 percent from the field and scoring 34 points against a talented La Salle squad.  Penn State is a completely different team when it knocks down jump shots.  Jermaine Marshall played very well in Philly, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the first half.  Travis tallied 10 points, including a trio of jump shots in the opening 20 minutes at La Salle.  Travis is very difficult player to defend when he makes jump shots.  All that being said, Penn State needs to continue its trend of quick shooting starts in the first half.  The Lions can ill afford to dig themselves out of an early shooting slump.

Playing 40 Minutes
While a quick shooting start is a big boost, the Nittany Lions can use Wednesday night's game as a prime example of what happens when they don't put 40 minutes of basketball together.  Maximum effort on both ends of the floor is essential for two halves every single time the Nittany Lions step onto the floor.  Penn State played very well for 25 minutes in The Palestra.  The Lions were in a two-point game with 15 minutes to play before falling by 25.  The final score was not indicative of how well Penn State played early on.  The game was decided in the second half when the Lions did not sustain their effort on the defensive end of the floor.  It's tough to expect a rotation of seven or eight players to leave everything on the floor for 40 minutes every single night, but that is how the Nittany Lions will compete to win games.

Scouting the Black Knights
Army enters Saturday's game with a 4-3 record following an impressive 91-point scoring outburst against Marist (91-57) on Wednesday.  Army has victories over VMI (80-74), Binghamton (85-76), St. Francis (N.Y.) (67-59) and Marist.  The three losses came at the hands of Air Force (76-65), Yale (86-83 in 2OT) and Bryant (70-59).  Army started three freshmen and two seniors against Marist.  Freshman guard Kyle Toth scored 20 points in the victory over Marist.  Forward Ella Ellis (6-7) is Army's leading scorer at 19.7 points per game and rebounder at 5.3 boards per contest.  Keep an eye on freshman Kyle Wilson, who averages 11.7 points off the bench.  Saturday marks the 41st meeting between the Black Knights and Penn State (23-17 PSU), and it is the first game in the series since Dec. 10, 2008.


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