La Salle (6-6) at Penn (2-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: The Palestra (8,722) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: La Salle 4-1, Penn 1-3. Away Record: La Salle 0-3, Penn 1-6. Neutral Record: La Salle 2-2, Penn 0-0. Conference Record: La Salle 0-0, Penn 0-0. Series Record: Penn leads, 38-28.
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers will head across town to take on their Big 5 rival Penn Quakers at The Palestra on Saturday.
The Explorers have been out of action since their 71-58 loss to Miami-Florida at the Bank United Center last Sunday. The setback dropped La Salle to the .500 mark at 6-6. After the Explorers battle their crosstown rival, they will return home to host George Washington to begin their Atlantic 10 Conference season. Coach John Giannini's team is one of the weakest on the offensive end in its conference with just 69.5 ppg. La Salle has allowed its opposition to net 69.2 ppg, giving it the ninth best scoring defense in the A-10.
Penn came up just short of an upset on Thursday as it dropped an 80-77 decision at George Mason. The Quakers have lost their last six games to fall to 2-9 on the season. During their current losing slide, three of the games were decided by one possession and another went into overtime. Coach Jerome Allen's team has had no trouble scoring points en route to its 71.7 ppg average, but it is second-to-last in the Ivy League in scoring defense with its allowance of 78.4 ppg. Penn will begin its conference schedule next week versus Princeton.
La Salle has won the last six meetings versus Penn but the Quakers own a 38-28 advantage in the all-time series. The Explorers coasted to a 74-57 victory last season.
Although the Explorers were dispatched by the Hurricanes, three players had strong showings in the setback. Sam Mills had 15 points and three steals, Tyreek Duren tallied 18 points and five rebounds in the contest. Steve Zack registered his sixth double-double in seven games with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Duren could make history against Penn as he enters needing only two more steals to join Doug Overton as the only Explorer with 1,400 points, 400 assists and 200 steals. He has averaged 22 ppg in his last four games at The Palestra. La Salle also relies heavily on Jerrell Wright (13.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Tyrone Garland (13.8 ppg).
Tony Hicks led Penn versus GMU with 23 points, six assists and three steals. Fran Dougherty scored 17 while collecting nine rebounds and Miles Jackson- Cartwright attempted just seven shots from the floor but scored 16. Despite their poor record, the Quakers have tremendous balance on offense this season with four players averaging double figures, led by Hicks (14.6 ppg) and Jackson-Cartwright (12.8 ppg). Dougherty (11.8 ppg) and starting center Darien Nelson-Henry (12.8 ppg) are also in double figures, but Nelson-Henry has missed the past three games due to a concussion.
Penn has collapsed in the second half in each of its last two outings. The Quakers will need to put together a full 40 minute performance to outlast the Explorers. La Salle is a scrappy team that can be frustrating to defend due to its athletic backcourt. The Explorers should be able to overcome the home court advantage and leave this Big 5 battle triumphant.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 67, Penn 61
01/04 10:39:32 ET