McKeesport, Pa. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball Team (8-4, 3-1) saw a historic start to the 2017/2018 season both as a team and for individuals. It started with the Lions winning their first four games of the season for the first time in program history, which included their first win over a Division II school when they defeated Point Park 82-77 at home.
During that four-game stretch, Senior Khari Hicks (East Hills, Pa./Imani Christian Academy) broke the single game record for assists in a game and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in his PSUGA career. Since then, Hicks has broken the career assist record and teammates Curtis Newby (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) and Jordon Payne (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) have both reached the 1,000-point marks in their collegiate careers.
PSUGA has cooled down a little bit since their hot start going 4-4 in their last eight games, including an 80-74 loss to Penn State DuBois prior to the holiday break. PSUGA is looking to get back on the right track and will have a good opportunity to do that. After having eight straight road games to end the 2017 portion of their schedule, they kick off the new year with three straight home games and play nine of their remaining 14 games inside the Wunderly Gymnasium.
The men have not yet lost a game at home this season and since the 2011/2012 season PSUGA has been enjoying their time at home where they hold a 38-34 record. Their offense has also played better at home averaging 93 points per game compared to 85 PPG on the road. One of the leaders of that offense is Payne who currently leads the team with 22.8 PPG through the team’s first 12 games.
Good production off the bench has been another factor in the team’s successful start to the season. Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, Pa./West Mifflin), Makis Rivera (Pittsburgh, Pa./Imani Christian Academy), and most recently Jeremy McMunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) have all provided a spark off the bench. Rouse and Rivera are averaging 8.4 and 9.3 PPG respectively and, since his move from the starting lineup to the bench, McMunn has averaged 11.5 PPG.
Head Coach Tyler Care says it is important to have a deep bench and have guys you can rely on to come into the game and provide a spark for his team. That was no more apparent then in the game against CCAC-Boyce earlier this season. PSUGA was down 7-0 and looked sluggish through the first three minutes of the ball game, but Care did a five-for-five switch that sparked his team to victory.
PSUGA will be looking for all the offense they can get when they kick off the second half of the season with a matchup against Penn State Wilke Barre on Friday and Penn State Worthington Scranton on Saturday. Tip-off for Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday will begin at 3:30 p.m.