Columbia Lions (1-1 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U)
NCAAB: Friday, November 17, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Penn State Nittany Lions -13. Total: 146
The Penn State Nittany Lions will be looking to remain undefeated on the season when they host the Columbia Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center on ridFay night. Penn State is coming off consecutive victories over Campbell, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Montana. Columbia bounced back from an opening loss to Villanova by beating Longwood on Tuesday.
Small but fast
The Lions won only 11 games last season after losing four starters–and head coach Kyle Smith–from a 25-win campaign in 2015-16. Now, second-year coach Jim Engles’ squad is looking to make progress. It showed signs of doing that when it stayed with powerhouse Villanova last weekend before falling 75-60. The Lions followed up that performance by beating Longwood 87-77 on Tuesday.
Engles wants the Lions to play up-tempo, and the keys to that effort are 6’0” guards Mike Smith and Quinton Adlesh. They combined for 45 points in the win over Longwood. Smith, a sophomore, averaged 13.6 points and 3.4 assists per game as a freshman and led the team in minutes at 31.4 per contest. Lukas Meisner, a 6’8” forward who had 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in the win over Longwood, is the only starter over 6’4”.
The Nittany Lions last started a season 4-0 in 2011–also the last time they played in the NCAA Tournament. Penn State is trying to match that feat on Friday in the Legends Classic, but it may have to do so without one of its top players. Sophomore guard Tony Carr, who averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game last season and scored a combined 53 points in recent wins over Campbell and Fairleigh Dickinson, sprained his ankle early in the second half and did not return in a 70-59 victory over Montana on Wednesday. With their floor general down, sophomore forward Lamar Stevens stepped up to the tune of a team-high of 25 points (15 in the second half) and seven rebounds. Senior Shep Garner shook a shooting slump to drain consecutive three-pointers around the three-minute mark of the second half to hold off the Grizzlies.
“My teammates and coaches instilled a lot of confidence in me and when Tony went down,” Stevens explained. “Everybody had to step up, and tonight, my teammates just found me in the right spots and I was able to make my shots.”
With Carr being held to seven points and 19 minutes due to the injury, Garner and Josh Reaves scored 12 points apiece against Montana. Mike Watkins added eight points, six rebounds, and four blocks in 19 minutes.
The Columbia Lions are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a win
- 4-1 Under in their last five overall
- 4-1 Under in their last five following a win
The Penn State Nittany Lions are:
- 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine home games
- 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference games
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Ivy League
Columbia is not big, so it will have its hands full with a trio of Penn State big men that stand 6’10” or taller. For Penn State, Stevens is averaging 15 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game, while Reaves is chipping in 14.7 points and 2.3 steals per outing. Columbia is 1-4 ATS in its last five following a win. The Nittany Lions are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine at home, 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference contests, and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against the Ivy League. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.