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Sophomore guard Tony Hicks torched Temple Saturday for 28 points on 12-for-24 shooting.

Credit: Amanda Suarez

Saturday night was exciting for Penn basketball fans, as Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Miles Cartwright nearly led the Quakers back to a thrilling victory over Temple. Although the Owls prevailed, there’s a lot to be excited about for the Quakers this upcoming season.

THE GOOD: Sophomore success. A lot of focus was on center Darien Nelson-Henry and guard Tony Hicks entering Saturday night’s matchup, and rightfully so. The pair played well in spurts throughout the Ivy League slate last season, and expectations are high for the two coming into the 2013-14 season.

Against the Owls, the duo nearly single-handedly led Penn to victory. Hicks, who started at point guard for the Quakers, scored 28 points on 12-for-24 shooting, and was clutch down the stretch for Penn. Trailing 71-65 with just over two minutes remaining, Hicks canned back-to-back threes to tie the game. Moments later, Hicks’ shot was goaltended in transition, and Penn had its first lead since early in the first half. Though the Red and Blue eventually fell and their luck ran out, Hicks shined in his season debut.

Nelson-Henry also demonstrated why Penn fans should be excited for this season. Not only does the sophomore center form a dynamic tandem with senior forward Fran Dougherty in the frontcourt, but he also showed a well-developed chemistry with Hicks. Nelson-Henry had 19 points and 10 boards, and was very efficient with his shots. Penn’s starting center knocked down 8 of 11 shots, and beat Temple’s inside defenders time after time on Saturday. Nelson-Henry also was able to beat the Owls back down the court in transition several times, and his play helped spark Penn’s comeback towards the end of regulation.

THE BAD: Penn’s zone defense. Until the final six minutes of Saturday’s game, Temple threatened to run away with this season’s first Big 5 contest. Though the matchup was close throughout the first half, Temple began to pull away in the middle of the second half, even pushing its lead to 15 with 11:21 remaining. The reason for the Owls’ success was the ineffectiveness of the Quakers 2-3 zone defense. Though Penn’s on-ball defense had some success, Temple had an easy time getting wide-open three-point attempts.

The Owls went 6-for-24 from deep, but the shots the team got were makeable. The most damaging aspect of Penn’s zone defense on Saturday was the team’s inability to rebound the ball. The Owls pulled down a whopping 20 offensive rebounds over Penn’s back line, notching 16 second-chance points. Temple’s ability to keep possessions alive slowed the Quakers down on a night where they were efficient on offense.

THE UGLY: Henry Brooks. It was a rough night for the junior forward from New Orleans. In a game in which Penn desperately needed production off its bench, Brooks was the most likely source for those points. The good news is that he had the most points of any bench player – four.

The bad news is that he shot just 2-for-6 from the field. Brooks settled into old habits early in the second half when he started settling for contested 18-foot jump shots. The junior also got outplayed on the defensive side of the ball. Brooks consistently gave up offensive rebounds to smaller players from Temple, and he eventually got an earful from Hicks. He only pulled down five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench for Jerome Allen.


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