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Penn State takes on Rider before Big Ten stretch begins

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With one nonconference challenge remaining before the team dives exclusively into Big Ten play, Penn State knows the time is now to iron out the kinks.

The Nittany Lions (6-6) will host Rider (3-9) on Friday in University Park, Pa., before heavy league play hits next week with contests against Michigan State and Michigan.

Penn State hasn’t played in over a week, most recently posting a 72-55 victory over Le Moyne on Dec. 21. Kanye Clary registered 20 points for the winners, while Qudus Wahab added 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Nittany Lions led by 21 against Le Moyne before the first-year Division I program sliced the deficit to nine down the stretch. Penn State coach Mike Rhoades was not enamored of his team’s second-half focus.

“Let’s call it as it is: I’m sure a lot of guys had their bags packed before the game,” Rhoades said, referring to the Christmas break. “But don’t have your game packed. That was the message. Make sure you bring your game today.”

The Nittany Lions have won two of their last three — dropping only a one-point decision to Georgia Tech in overtime — since suffering a five-game losing streak.

Penn State also has dropped two consecutive meetings with Rider, a one-point home defeat in 2017 and a nine-point loss at a neutral site in 2007.

The Broncs enter Friday’s game on the heels of a 77-73 defeat to Penn in overtime. Allen Powell led Rider with 21 points, while Mervin James had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“My teammates were telling me to keep being aggressive because it wasn’t falling early,” Powell, who hit 6 of 13 shots from beyond the arc, told the Trentonian. “I just kept being aggressive and shots started to fall.”

Powell is second on Rider in scoring at an average of 10.3 points per game, although he is shooting just 31.5 percent from the field for the season.

James (19.2 ppg) leads the Broncs in scoring and is shooting 52.7 percent from the floor.

–Field Level Media

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