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Michigan must stifle Penn State shooters to earn rare road win

The Nittany Lions light it up from three at home.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

The Michigan Wolverines have now lost four of their last six games after dropping a close game to the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers Thursday night. The road doesn’t get any easier as we approach February. Up next is a rematch with the high-scoring Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.

The last time these two met, the Wolverines defended their home court while holding the Nittany Lions to just 32.1% shooting from deep. Typically, they rely on that number to be much higher to stay in games. They currently lead the Big Ten in three-point attempts with 39 more than any other team. Converting those attempts at a 38.3% clip is why Penn State has seen a lot of success this season.

Potentially without Jett Howard for the second-straight contest, Michigan will need to slow down these guys, who have been electric at home this season.

Andrew Funk

In Penn State’s last two home games, Andrew Funk has been the biggest x-factor. The senior guard dropped 23 points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep in the Nittany Lions’ 76-65 win over Nebraska. In the previous game, Funk scored 26 while hitting 7-from-12 from the three-point line in a 85-66 blowout win over Indiana.

When Funk gets hot, this Nittany Lions team is pushed to another level. His team is 10-1 when the guard has hit three or more from distance in a game this year. They are 3-6 when teams have found ways to run him off the line. This is how quickly a shooter like Funk can turn a game on its head:

Funk’s not an easy guard. At 6-foot-5, he’s typically bigger than most guards he lines up against, allowing him to hit even the most contested shots. Then you add to his streakiness and how hot he can get on his home court. If Michigan’s going to pull off a win, it has to find a way to get Funk out of his groove.

Seth Lundy

Speaking of size on the perimeter that can shoot, Seth Lundy has taken a huge leap for Penn State this season. The 6-foot-6 wing is shooting a career-high 47.5% from the field this season. His shooting averages for the past three years never touched 40%.

From deep, it’s more career-highs. He’s converting at a 42.5% mark this year. Last season he shot more attempts per game from behind the arc and hit just 34.8%. Lundy is secretly one of the biggest reasons that Penn State is in the hunt for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

In the last three home games, Lundy has hit 12-of-24 three-pointers while racking up 18.3 points per game. But it’s not just his shooting from deep, Lundy is obviously a bigger dude. He plays tough defense and can drive to the rim and do things like this:

He’ll be a tough matchup for Terrance Williams II, who he scored 16 points against in Ann Arbor in the last contest. Oh, and did I mention he also shoots 43.8% from deep at home while averaging 14.3 points a game?

The Wolverines will have their hands full with these two shooters and senior guard Jalen Pickett, their leading scorer. Tip-off is at noon Sunday on Big Ten Network.