Penn State (6-2) at Pittsburgh (7-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Petersen Events Center (12,508) -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: PSU 4-1, Pitt 4-0. Away Record: PSU 1-0, Pitt 0-0. Neutral Record: PSU 1-1, Pitt 3-0. Conference Record: PSU 0-0, Pitt 0-0. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads, 75-70.
GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers will attempt to keep their unblemished mark alive at home on Tuesday night, as they welcome the Penn State Nittany Lions to Petersen Events Center as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Penn State has played very well in the early going this season, as its 6-2 record marks its best start since opening up 7-1 in 2008. The Nittany Lions partook in last weekend's Barclays Classic, but after advancing to the championship game with a win over St. John's in the semifinals, 89-82 in overtime, they fell short of Ole Miss, 79-76.
Pitt also participated in a November tournament at the Barclays Center, as it dismissed Texas Tech (76-53) and Stanford (88-67) en route to the Legends Classic championship. The Panthers continued their perfect season on Nov. 30 in their annual bout with cross-town rival Duquesne, 84-67, to run out to a 7-0 start for the eighth time in the last 13 seasons.
These Keystone State rivals are very familiar with one another having played 145 times before, although they have not met up in eight years. The Panthers hold a slim 75-70 advantage.
The Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 13 in their latest game with Ole Miss, and even though they were able to climb back and take a seven-point lead midway through the second quarter, their advantage would not last long as the Rebels pulled away late. While they completed greater than 47 percent of their field goal attempts on the night, including 9-of-22 from beyond the arc, they had a disappointing showing at the foul line (11-of-18). D.J. Newbill shined in the setback with 23 points. Ross Travis tallied a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Tim Frazier narrowly missed one with nine points and 10 assists. On the season, Penn State has typically been impressive on offense, shooting just a shade under 48 percent from the field for 82.2 points per game, good for a +10.4 scoring margin. Newbill (19.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Frazier (18.5 ppg) are both elite scoring options, while Frazier also gets his teammates involved with 7.5 assists per game (fifth in the nation). Brandon Taylor (12.0 ppg) and Travis (11.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) have also been solid.
Although the Panthers found themselves tied with Duquesne early in the second half, they caught fire from there and led by as many as 20 points down the stretch. They shot nearly 50 percent from the field, even though only 3-of-16 came from 3-point range, and they took care of the basketball with just seven turnovers. Cameron Wright led the way with 20 points and five assists, while Lamar Patterson stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals. Talib Zanna and Durand Johnson netted 13 and 11 points, respectively, while James Robinson pitched in eight points and nine assists. As its record would indicate, Pitt has been dominant on both ends of the floor this season, as it posts eye-popping margins in terms of scoring (+23.7), rebounding (+12.7) and turnovers (+4.6). At least seven players score at least 6.1 points per game, led by Patterson (17.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.4 apg). Zanna (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is a steady presence in the paint, while Wright (11.4 ppg) and Johnson (10.3 ppg) are also off to great starts.
Despite Penn State's impressive start to the season, it will certainly have its hands full in this one playing on the road against a surging Panthers team. Pitt many not experience the blowout victory it has gotten used to this season, but it still shouldn't have much issue dismissing its intrastate rival.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 80, Penn State 68
12/03 10:38:21 ET