Penn St. at Marquette
Where: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE – Penn State and Marquette were in Madison Square Garden for their respective conference tournaments earlier this month, and both aim for a return trip when they meet in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Tuesday in Milwaukee. The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions knocked off Temple at home to begin the tournament before ending top-seeded Notre Dame’s season with a 73-63 victory Saturday at South Bend, Ind.
Tony Carr scored 24 points as Penn State moved to within one win of its sixth all-time berth in the NIT semifinals. “I’m really proud of my team, the way they fought, the way they competed, especially on the road here at Notre Dame on St. Patrick’s Day, you figured everything would be going against us,” Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers told reporters. “These guys came out and were ready to play. We really buckled down and did some really good things on the defensive end. It always goes back to our identity, defending and rebounding.” Defending can be difficult against the Golden Eagles, who rank fourth nationally in 3-point shooting and buried 12-of-26 from beyond the arc in a 101-92 victory over Oregon in the second round.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT PENN STATE (23-13): Carr, a sophomore, rebounded from a career low-tying two-point performance on 1-of-12 shooting against Temple to post his 15th 20-point game this season. Josh Reaves chipped in 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals with zero turnovers in 40 minutes. Standout forward Mike Watkins has missed six straight games with a knee injury and is probably out for the remainder of the tournament, likely yielding more starts for freshman John Harrar, who had six boards and two blocked shots in 23 minutes against Notre Dame.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (21-13): The Golden Eagles scored 58 points before halftime against the Ducks en route to their best offensive showing of the season, and Andrew Rowsey led the charge with 29 points and nine assists. “When we have a guy like (Rowsey) it just gives us life,” Markus Howard – who hit four 3-pointers and scored 18 points – said of his teammate. “It makes it easier for us off the ball to make plays.” Rowsey and Howard average more than 20 points per game and Sam Hauser is the one other double-digit scorer at 14.1, but is averaging 4.3 points on 4-of-17 shooting over his last three games.
1. The winner takes on Louisville or Mississippi State in the semifinals on March 27 in New York.
2. Rowsey is 24-for-47 from 3-point range over his last five games while making 9-of-28 shots inside the arc in that span.
3. The teams have not met since Marquette defeated Penn State 87-79 in the semifinals of the 1995 NIT at Madison Square Garden.