Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Eyeing improvement, unbeaten Penn St. faces Morehead St. next

Field Level Media
17 Nov 2023, 14:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

It's going to take a lot more than three wins for Penn State coach Mike Rhoades to relax.

The Nittany Lions are off to a solid start in Rhoades' first year as coach, but they don't want to take their foot off the gas Friday when Morehead State visits University Park, Pa.

Penn State (3-0) has won its first three games by an average of 24.3 points. Most recently, the team trounced Saint Francis (Pa.) 83-53 on Tuesday. It's the first time in 44 years that the Nittany Lions have won two of their games by 30 or more points in the first three contests of a season.

Kanye Clary scored 14 points and the Nittany Lions limited the Red Flash to 35 percent shooting (including 5 of 19 from 3-point range) with 20 turnovers.

Afterward, though, Rhoades made it clear that he's anything but complacent.

"I wish I could say I'm comfortable. I'll never be comfortable or satisfied," Rhoades said. "I think we can get a lot better. I really do. I think we still are trying to figure out who plays best with who. I made this comment to our staff last week. I don't think these guys realize how good they can be now, but they're still feeling things out, too."

Clary leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting. Ace Baldwin Jr. chips in 10.7 points and 3.7 assists, while Qudus Wahab is averaging 10 points and 12.3 rebounds.

The Nittany Lions' balanced attack could pose problems for Morehead State (2-2), which had its hands full in losses to Alabama (105-73) and Purdue (87-57) earlier this season. The Eagles rebounded from the loss to the Boilermakers by downing Mercer 74-66 at home on Tuesday.

Drew Thelwell scored 26 points, while Riley Minix chipped in 19 points. However, the Eagles' two stars combined for 12 turnovers -- and the team had 26 overall -- giving coach Preston Spradlin a point of emphasis heading into the meeting with Penn State.

"We just have to do a better job at valuing the basketball," Spradlin said. "The positive thing is that we did win, and those things are very fixable. But had we had only 10 turnovers tonight, obviously the score would have been inflated and we wouldn't have had a lesson to learn. We just really have to hammer home the urgency for the appreciation of what led to those turnovers and correct it in a hurry."

The defending Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champions, the Eagles are 0-1 all-time against the Nittany Lions, losing 63-46 on Nov. 10, 2006, at Penn State.

--Field Level Media

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