Buckeyes Fall Late, Bow out of Big Ten Tournament
Ohio State fell in their first game for the second straight season, this time with a little help from the men in stripes, losing a late lead and falling for the third time this season to Penn State, 69-68. Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 25, while Kam Williams and Jae’Sean Tate added 10 each.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 4-point lead early but Penn State took control. The Lions would score the next 12 points to lead by 8 before the Buckeyes answered. Ohio State would utilize a 20-6 run to get a 6-point lead after a turnover and lay in from Andrew Dakich, forcing Nittany Lion coach Pat Chambers to call timeout at the 6:29 mark. The Lions would respond, tying the game at 28 apiece heading into the last media timeout and although Ohio State had an opportunity to take a lead to the locker room on the last possession, Keita Bates-Diop’s jumper from the left baseline fell off the mark and the Lions led by a point after 20 minutes. The key to the first half lead for Penn State was a huge 14-3 advantage in second chance points. Penn State, playing without starting center, Mike Watkins, was the surprising aggressor on the offensive glass and in 50/50 balls in the first half, which was the major factor they held the slim margin at the half. The Buckeyes were led by Bates-Diop’s 8 and Jae’Sean Tate’s 7, while all 8 Buckeyes that played scored. The Lions were essentially a two-man show, with Tony Carr leading all scorers with 14 and Lamar Stephens added 12 in the first half of basketball.
Ohio State got a lead out of the gate in the second half after Tate completed an old-fashioned 3-point play, but a quick 7-0 Penn State run gave the Lions a 5-point cushion. C.J. Jackson answered that mini spurt with a pair of FT’s to cut the lead back to 3, but Penn State would bounce back out to another 5-0 spurt and the Buckeyes faced their largest deficit of the night at 8. The Buckeyes would fight back to tie it with 10:30 to go and the teams heading to the benches for the media timeout. The teams would go back and forth for much of the next several minutes before an Andre Wesson lay in gave the Buckeyes a 2-point cushion heading into the final media timeout and Bates-Diop heading to the stripe. A miss of the front end of the 1 and 1 was followed by a stop at the other end and when Bates-Diop hit a jumper from the right wing, Ohio State led by 4. A bucket each way and the Buckeyes led by 2 possessions with under 2 minutes remaining. Penn State’s Tony Carr drew a phantom foul from Bates-Diop and split the pair of FT’s and the Buckeyes still led by 3. Penn State would get a stop defensively and on the other end, what looked like a charge was ruled a block on Dakich and the Lions bagged both free throws to cut the lead to 1. Ohio State called timeout with just under 41.5 seconds remaining, but coming out of the timeout; Bates-Diop dribbled at the top of the key and lost the handle giving Penn State a chance. On the ensuing possession, Carr found Julian more wide open in the lane and with 3 seconds remaining, he threw it down, giving Penn State the lead. After each team called a timeout, Jackson raced it up the floor, but there would be no heroics as his deep fader fell well off the mark and the Buckeyes were left stunned.
So, the Buckeyes head into the NCAA tournament with the opposite of momentum. They will now sit and wait nearly 2 full weeks before taking the floor again and will need to regroup. Since the big win at Purdue, this team has faded and faded fast. To be fair, this game was taken away a touch with some of the officiating but that can’t be an excuse. Good teams find a way to win this type of game and they did not. Have we seen the best of Ohio State? Quite possibly. They will get a chance to continue playing in the NCAA tournament, but for how long is on them. This has certainly been a surprise season but success breeds new expectations and a quarterfinal loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament falls well short of those expectations. The new season begins in two weeks. Until then we wait.
Ohio State will next take the floor in the NCAA tournament on either March 15th or 16th, opponent, location and time to be determined.
– Jason Harris