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MBB preview: Penn State host Mount Saint Mary’s

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The Penn State men’s basketball team will host Mount Saint Mary’s at the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 22, starting at 2 p.m. ET. The game is part of a men’s and women’s double-header, where the Lady Lions will battle Alcorn State at 11 a.m. ET.

Penn State (8-4), coming off a 81-79 ovetime loss against Princeton on Dec. 14, enters their final non-conference game with an 8-4 record. The Nittany Lions started the season 6-1, its best start under third-year head coach Patrick Chambers, but they have lost three of their last five games. Penn State is 5-2 at the BJC this season.

Mount Saint Mary’s (3-7) is coming off a 70-58 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Dec 7. The Mountaineers are 0-6 on the road this season with losses coming at West Virginia, Villanova, BYU, Maryland-Baltimore County, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Michigan State. The Mountaineers are allowing 90.2 points per game on the road, compared to 65.0 at home.

Penn State leads the all-time series 7-0. Four of the seven matchups have been decided by seven points or fewer.

Last time out

Penn State fell to Princeton despite receiving a superior effort from D.J. Newbill (24 points) and Tim Frazier (24 points), who combined for 48 points. Ross Travis chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Mount Saint Mary’s (3-7) is coming off a 70-58 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Dec 7. Rashad Whack led the way with 18 points while Julian Norfleet added 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Penn State at a glance

The Nittany Lions are searching for their ninth non-conference win of the season, which would be the most in the regular season for a Patrick Chambers-led PSU squad and the most overall since the 2008-09 team went 11-2 through pre-Big Ten play.

The Nittany Lions have four players scoring in double figures after 12 games – Newbill, Frazier, Travis and Brandon Taylor -- with the team averaging 80.3 ppg, the fourth-highest scoring clip among conference teams.

The Nittany Lions have the third-highest field-goal percentage among Big Ten teams (.472). As a unit, the starting five are all shooting at a higher clip than last season, by an average of nearly 9 percentage points.

Six different PSU players have led the team or tied for the lead in scoring through the first 12 games of the year: Frazier (6 games), Newbill (3 games), Donovan Jack, Travis, Allen Roberts and Taylor (1 game).

As a team, the Lions are shooting 75.1 percent from the free-throw line, the second-best showing among Big Ten teams ... Five PSU players are shooting 70 percent or better from the FT line, led by Taylor’s 85 percent showing (17-20), among players with at least 20 attempts.

Players to watch

- 6-1 junior guard John Johnson, a transfer from Pittsburgh, will be eligible for the first time this season on Sunday.

- Newbill (19.0 ppg) and Frazier (18.4 ppg) are ranked first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten and make up the highest-scoring backcourt duo in the nation.Frazier has the most assists of any NCAA Division I player (91) to start the week and is second in the country in assists per game (7.6)

- Frazier has the most assists of any NCAA Division I player (91) to start the week and is second in the country in assists per game (7.6).

- Newbill passed 1,000 career points at Duquesne (1,025), including 293 scored at Southern Mississippi ... He needs 268 more points to enter the PSU records books. He is also one of the top three-point shooters on the squad, knocking down 20 of 47 attempts this season.

- Sophomore 7-0 center Taylor Danaher has stepped into the starting role for Mount Saint Mary’s after the season-ending injury to Kristijan Krajina. Danaher is averaging 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over the past two games.

- For the Mountaineers, Norfleet is leading the charge with 18.6 ppg and 5.4 apg, while Whack is second on the team in scoring with 14.6 ppg.

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