Ohio State Survives Penn State
Ohio State won its second straight and third in four games, defeating Penn State in the Schott 74-70 to move to 15-7 and 5-6 in conference play. Despite surrendering 24 points off 18 turnovers, the Buckeyes built a big first half lead, seeing it completely disappear but regaining the lead late to survive at home. Luther Muhammad led Ohio State with 20 and C.J. Jackson and Andre Wesson added 15 apiece, while Wesson also pulled down 10 rebounds for his first career double double. In a game where Kaleb Wesson struggled once again with foul trouble, Ohio State hit 7 of 14 three point attempts and 50% overall from the floor.
The Nittany Lions took a quick 8-2 lead early thanks to 3 Buckeye turnovers in the half court during the first three minutes. Ohio State would answer going on a 13-1 run over the next 4 minutes to lead 15-9 and forcing Penn State coach Pat Chambers to call a timeout. The Buckeyes run was due in large part to very good defense in the half court, turning the Lions over a couple times but most importantly, dominating the defensive glass, limiting Penn State to one shot per possession. The momentum continued to favor the Buckeyes out of the timeout, extending the run to 21-1 to lead 23-9 with just over 8 minutes to play in the first half. The Lions got within 10 after a pair of buckets in the paint from Mike Watkins, but a Duane Washington 3 from the short corner gave Ohio State a 26-13 advantage heading into the under 8 media timeout. Ohio State scored first out of the timeout to enjoy their largest lead of the game of 15 before 5 straight Lion points trimmed the lead back to 10. Andre Wesson ended the Penn State mini run, burying a triple from the short corner, giving Ohio State a 13-point lead, a lead they would hold heading into the final media timeout of the half. The Buckeyes looked to seemingly be in great shape with a 13-point lead and just 3 minutes remaining in the half. That unfortunately would not be the case. Turnovers on 4 straight possessions against a 3 quarter court press employed by the Lions enabled Penn State to go on an 8-1 run to cut the game to just 6 with under a minute to go. The Lions were not done, a completed old-fashioned 3-point play from Lamar Stevens trimmed the Buckeye lead to 3 with 15 seconds remaining. Another Ohio State turnover, their 12th of the half, was how the first half would end as Penn State claimed the momentum as the teams hit the locker room with Ohio State leading 34-31, but over the last 7 minutes of the half, Penn State outscored the Buckeyes 18-6 to make it a ballgame. The Buckeyes dominated the glass 21-10, outshot Penn State 48% to 39% but the 12 turnovers allowed Penn State to get back into the game. The Buckeyes got their sophomore forward Kyle Young back from injury after missing the previous 4 with a stress fracture in his leg. Young made his presence know immediately, scoring 2 points, pulling down 6 boards and blocking a shot. Luther Muhammad and Andre Wesson led Ohio State in the first half with 9 each. Josh Reaves led Penn State with 12 first half points.
Penn State struck first out of the locker room to cut the Buckeye lead to one and each team would trade baskets on the next couple of possessions. Then, the Buckeyes took control. An Andre Wesson old-fashioned three-point play gave the Buckeyes a 4-point lead. After Penn State scored on their next possession, Luther Muhammad hit a jumper from just above the foul line and after a Lion turnover, Muhammad struck again, burying a three from the left wing. After a Penn State miss, Keyshawn Woods hit a short jumper to give Ohio State a 9-point bulge and forcing Penn State to take a timeout with 16:26 remaining in the game. The Buckeyes momentum did not continue out of the timeout as the Buckeyes would go scoreless over the next 4 plus minutes, unable to solve the Nittany Lion zone defense, which allowed Penn State to go on a 12-0 run to grab a 3-point lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the game. The Buckeyes would end the drought when Duane Washington drilled a 3 from the left corner to tie the score and it would remain tied heading into the under 12 media timeout. The Buckeyes would regain the lead thanks to a pair of C.J. Jackson free throws and it would stay there over the next 4 ½ minutes. A critical moment in the game with just over 11 minutes to go when Kaleb Wesson was whistled for a foul that upon replay was clearly a charge, but it would send him to the bench with his fourth personal and Ohio State forced to play without his services for the majority of the remainder of the game. Muhammad would hit a pair of free throws on three straight possessions to give the Buckeyes a 3-point lead with 5 minutes to go. After a Lion turnover, Jackson banked in a runner in transition that extended Ohio State’s lead to 5 but Penn State would answer as Lamar Stevens scored on a dribble drive to cut the lead to 3 with 3 ½ minutes to go. On the next possession, Jackson hit a long circus shot around a defender as time expired on the shot clock to give Ohio State a 5-point lead with just over 3 minutes to go. At the same time, Kaleb Wesson was pulled down for what was called a flagrant foul. Wesson buried both free throws to give Ohio State a 7-point lead and possession of the basketball. The Buckeyes turned it over again and that led to a Josh Reaves break away and dunk that cut the lead to 5. After a Buckeye miss, the Lions buried a 3 to cut the lead to 2 with 2 minutes to go in the game. On the ensuing possession, Kaleb Wesson split a pair of free throws giving Ohio State a 3-point lead. On Penn State’s next possession Kaleb Wesson picked up his 5th foul and Penn State buried both free throws to trim the lead to 1. With the Lions putting on 3-quarter court pressure, the Buckeyes turned it over again in the backcourt, and Reaves raced to the rim for a dunk to give Penn State a 1-point lead with 1:30 remaining. After a Chris Holtmann timeout, C.J. Jackson slipped into the lane and made a nifty pass to Kyle Young who banked in a layup while being fouled giving Ohio State a 1-point lead and one minute to go. Young would miss the free throw and on Penn State’s possession, they called timeout with 47 seconds to go. The Lions attempted to go to the rim, but a Kyle Young blocked shot and in the scramble off the block, the ball bounded off C.J. Jackson and out of bounds giving Penn State possession but with just 1 second left on the shot clock and 33 seconds to go in the game. On the inbounds, Penn State was able to get a lob up near the rim, but Lamar Stevens did not get the shot off in time resulting in a turnover, giving Ohio State the basketball and a one point lead with just 32 seconds to go. Penn State would play the foul game and it nearly worked. Andre Wesson split a pair and with Ohio State leading by just 2, Penn State’s Rasir Bolton got free along the baseline, but blew a wide open layup that would’ve tied the game. C.J. Jackson buried a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to go to secure the victory.
The Buckeyes did a lot of good things in this ballgame, out rebounding the Lions, holding Penn State to just 43% from the floor and shooting the ball well themselves. The only thing that kept this game from being a double-digit victory was that season long bug-a-boo, the turnover. 18 of them for Ohio State that led to 24 Penn State points and almost gave them the upset. The return of Kyle Young helped spark the Buckeyes, who played more minutes than Coach Holtmann would’ve liked, but was forced to play due to Kaleb Wesson’s foul trouble. A lot of credit to Penn State, who did a really good job not allowing Wesson to catch the ball in the post and all but took the big fella out of the game. Duane Washington also added 9 off the bench and showed some life we haven’t seen in a month. So, some positives to take away and a chance to get back to .500 in the conference on Sunday.
The Buckeyes will head on the road to Bloomington, IN on Sunday for a 1 PM tip in Assembly Hall and airing on CBS.
– Jason Harris