The Nittany Lions continue on their quest for an at large bid at Value City Arena Tuesday night in Columbus, OH. The big matchup is on ESPN at 7 pm.
Now the Lions are coming into this weekend rested, as they had the weekend off. Ohio State just played a game on Sunday. Neither team is particularly deep so the extra rest has to be in PSU’s favor. PSU is also coming into this game on a 2 game winning streak, while OSU has lost 3 straight. PSU got a good look at what they’ll have to do to beat OSU in Columbus, thanks to Illinois. Make threes. Like 8 or 9 of them. Pringle, Battle, Babb, Morrissey…whoever. If someone can catch fire, that’d be great.
OSU still employs that 3-2 zone, so PSU will have to figure out how they’re going to attack it. Dallas Lauderdale and BJ Mullens are pretty nasty shot blockers but Battle isn’t worried about it.
“Go right at ’em,” Battle said. “They’re just seven feet, that’s all. Attack their body and you’re good. I don’t really see nothing. You just can’t try to go around ’em. Once you go around them, that’s when they get to you. You gotta go through ’em.”
The sophomore’s confidence is just astounding. Evan Turner and Battle are two of the top contenders for BTPOY so I’m sure ESPN will be all over that matchup. Turner’s a do it all stud. He’s averaging 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4 assists in conference play. Due to Noopy Crater’s transfer and the limitations of current PGs, PJ Hill and Jeremie Simmons, Turner tends to take on the point guard role. He won’t bring the ball up, but he’ll be the one driving all the time, either finishing or setting up teammates. PSU will have to be able to collapse on him defensively when he gets in the lane, and be able to rotate when he kicks it out to Jon Deibler, OSU’s best shooter. Diebler’s logged 48 treys in 14 conference games (more than 3 threes a game). PSU will have to find him on the perimeter.
Everyone knows about BJ Mullens, the heralded 7 foot freshmen. He’s shooting 71% from the floor in conference play, but he’s only averaging 22 minutes. Jones did a good job denying Tisdale the ball against Illinois, but Mullens is bigger, stronger, and has a wider base. BJ will get his points, but he won’t be dominate. OSU’s other main threat is William Buford, who has really stepped it up in conference play. Buford’s averaging 13.6 points and 35 minutes a game. I’d rave about Buford’s versatility, but Mr. Versatility himself, Evan Turner, is on his team.
So OSU can score (even without David Lighty, who probably won’t be making a comeback this year with the broken foot), but they aren’t imposing defensively. So hopefully, we’ll see a game in the 60s tonight, maybe even the 70s!
While Battle and Turner will probably get all the air time tonight, Jamelle Cornley’s final trip to his hometown of Columbus is the main story for PSU fans. Jamelle unfortunately is 0-6 against his hometown school. He dominated against them his freshmen year (when Terence Dials played), but wasn’t nearly productive against OSU his sophomore and junior years (could be attributed to his hip pointer, bruised knee, any other injury we didn’t know about). Regardless, this is most likely Jamelle’s final crack at the Buckeyes, so he’s going big time. As in, he’s got 350 people coming to watch him. You should read the assorted Cornley stories below
- Columbus Dispatch – No Ignoring Cornley Now
- SI.com (AP article) – Curtain Raiser: Cornley aims for NCAAs at PSU
- Collegian – Cornley Ready for Showdown
- Centre Daily – Cornley becomes Lions’ Heart
“I can honestly say that I’ve left everything on the court,” Cornley said. “I’ve given this program and this university all I can give.”
It’s a shame the university hasn’t returned the favor. It’s starting to hit me that Jamelle’s days in a Lions uniform are numbered. I’m expecting another epic Cornley performance (and I’m also ignoring the fact that Ed Hightower’s schedule to officiate – I swear I will personally get that dude fired if he T’s up Cornley tonight for no reason). I’m just saying we’ll get at least one yell for the cameras after an and-1 tonight.
PREDICTION: I’m torn. This just seems like everything’s in PSU’s favor. But when that happens, the expected outcome rarely comes to fruition. It’s still a road game and PSU has lost 10 straight to OSU. But I’m sipping on that kool-aid, buying the extra rest, and saying this is the day where the Big 3 puts it together. Pringle, Battle, and Cornley will all be unstoppable. PSU will get enough stops down the stretch to win 79-73.