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July 14, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; July 14, 2010 - The Nittany Lion basketball team will face five teams that reached the postseason and won more than 20 games in 2009-10 in an 11-game, 2010-11 non-conference slate announced Wednesday. Times and television arrangements will be determined and announced at a later date.
Highlighting the difficult slate will be road trips to Mississippi (Fri., Nov. 26), a team that went 21-10 and reached the NIT semifinals, and Virginia Tech (Sun. Dec. 12), which went 23-8 and reached the NIT third round, and an ACC/Big Ten Challenge home date with Maryland (Wed., Dec. 1), which went 24-9 and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Both Mississippi and Virginia Tech return most of their top scorers and will be strong contenders for preseason Top 25 ranking, while defending ACC Co-champion Maryland will have to replace All-American guard Greivis Vasquez but has a strong core for ACC Coach-of-the-Year Gary Williams to build around.
"I think we've put together a very good and very challenging non-conference schedule," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "Our guys will be challenged in some difficult road environments at Mississippi and Virginia Tech, and I know our fans will really look forward to Maryland, a team that was co-champion of the ACC last year, visiting the Jordan Center. Those are three good major conference teams. And, there are some teams in there like a Fairfield that may not be as well known, but were strong last year and return their core players and we fully expect to be a tough game."
Eight of the Nittany Lions' non-conference opponents posted winning records last season and all but three return their top scorers from their 2009-10 rosters. Five teams posted RPIs below 100 last season, and all but two had RPIs below 200.
The Nittany Lions will get a warm-up and fans will get their first look at new freshmen Taran Buie (6-2), Tre Bowman (6-4) and Jonathan Graham (6-8) when Penn State plays and exhibition game vs. East Stroudsburg on Fri., Nov. 5, the night before the Nittany Lion football team takes on Northwestern in Beaver Stadium.
Penn State will open the season the following Friday, Nov. 12 when it takes on Lehigh, which went 22-10 last year to earn a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions will open the season with four-straight home dates also taking on Saint Joseph's (Tues., Nov. 16), Fairfield (Fri., Nov. 19) and Central Connecticut State (Mon., Nov. 22). The rivals from Philadelphia always offer a difficult test, the teams split meetings in 2006 and 2007, as should Fairfield, which returns two players that scored better than 14.5 ppg from a team that went 22-10 and lost in overtime in the MAAC Championship game.
Penn State sees its first road action of the season at Mississippi the night before the annual Egg Bowl football game between Mississippi and rival Mississippi State. The game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Lions and the Rebels. The Lions will return home for another four-game home stand following that clash as they take on Furman (Sun., Nov. 28), Maryland, Duquesne (Sat., Dec. 4) and Mount St. Mary's (Tues., Dec. 7) in the Bryce Jordan Center. It will be the first meeting with the Terrapins since an 80-78 Nittany Lion victory in the 1990 NIT. The teams have met 16 times splitting the series, 8-8. The Lions are 6-0 at home vs. Maryland.
Penn State will then head to Blacksburg, Va. to face the Hokies for the third time in the last four seasons. The Nittany Lions won an ACC/Big Ten showdown (66-61) in the Jordan Center in 2007, but fell to the Hokies in the BJC last year (66-64). This will be Penn State's first trip to Blacksburg since falling 83-68 there in 1979. Tech leads the series 5-1.
The Nittany Lions will wrap-up the non-conference schedule with a Wed., Dec. 22 home date vs. Maine, which posted an 18-11 mark last year and returns its top three scorers.
Penn State will return four senior starters led by All-Big Ten point-guard Talor Battle whose 18.5 ppg scoring average ranked second only to No. 2 overall NBA draft pick Evan Turner in the Big Ten last year. Battle and fellow seniors David Jackson (9.5 ppg), Jeff Brooks (7.4 ppg) and Andrew Jones (6.0 ppg) make up the bulk of the 75 percent of scoring and 67 percent of rebounding Penn State returns for coach Ed DeChellis' eighth season at the helm.
2010-11 Penn State Non-Conference Opponents
Friday, Nov. 5 vs. East Stroudsburg (Exhibition)
Friday, Nov. 12 vs. Lehigh
Tues., Nov. 16 vs. Saint Joseph's
Fri., Nov. 19 vs. Fairfield
Mon., Nov. 22 vs. Central Connecticut State
Fri., Nov. 26 @ Mississippi
Sun., Nov. 28 vs. Furman
Wed., Dec. 1 vs. Maryland (ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Sat., Dec. 4 vs. Duquesne
Tues., Dec. 7 vs. Mount St. Mary's
Sun., Dec. 12 @ Virginia Tech
Wed., Dec. 22 vs. Maine