BLOG: Breaking Down the Men's Hoops Big Ten Opener
Dec. 30, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As head coach Patrick Chambers often says, the first season is complete. Penn State will open its 22nd season of Big Ten play inside the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday against No. 5 Michigan State (5 p.m. - BTN).
The Nittany Lions finished the non-conference slate with a 9-4 record, their best mark since the 2008-'09 season. Penn State heads into the 18-game Big Ten slate with confidence.
"I'm excited. I felt like our non-conference has done a great job for us," said Chambers. "We played every style you can imagine. That excites me, we've seen everything. There's going to be nothing that we're not ready for. Now, we have two new guys, it makes our bench a little deeper, in case of foul trouble."
Take a look through some things to watch for in the conference opener.
Ringing In the New Year
"It easily could've been 10, it easily could've been 11, but for whatever reason, it's not," Chambers said. "You have to learn from those losses and that should make us more prepared for the Big Ten. We should be very well prepared for the road and the teams that come in here."
One of Four Over 80
Leading the offensive charge for Penn State's high scoring output is the top backcourt duo in the Big Ten. D.J. Newbill is the top scorer in the Big Ten at 18.9 points per game. The Philadelphia native has been outstanding for Penn State this season. Newbill is shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from three. Additionally, he is averaging 6.2 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists per game. Fifth-year senior Tim Frazier is fourth in the Big Ten at 18.2 points per game. Frazier is shooting 48 percent from the field, dishing out a Big Ten-best 7.5 assists per game and 3.9 rebounds per game. Back after missing all but four games last season, Frazier has again been a terrific floor general for the Nittany Lions. Senior Allen Roberts and junior John Johnson will add great depth to the backcourt during Big Ten play. Roberts is averaging 7.1 points per contest as Penn State's sixth man. Johnson shined in his Nittany Lion debut on Dec. 22, scoring 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting against The Mount.
Opening at Home
Scouting Michigan State
Tom Izzo's squad leads the nation in distributing the basketball. Michigan State is No. 1 in the nation at 19.5 assists per game. Appling leads the team at 5.0 assists per game. The Spartans also lead the conference in field goal percentage at 49.1. Michigan State is plus-6.3 in rebounding margin. Dawson leads the conference in offensive rebounding (3.0 rpg).
The Nittany Lions are 4-9 against Michigan State since the 2007-'08 season.