Ohio State Falls on the Road to Penn State

21st ranked Ohio State dropped their 5th game in 6 tries, dropping a road contest in State College 90-74, slipping to 12-6 and 2-5 in conference play. Penn State’s hot shooting early enabled the Nittany Lions to build a big lead and hold off every charge Ohio State tried to make in splitting the season series. Duane Washington, Jr. came off his 1 game suspension to lead the Buckeyes with a career high tying 20 on 3 of 5 from long range.  Kaleb Wesson added 19 and Andre Wesson chipped in 12 before fouling out late.

Ohio State started flat and Penn State started hot, jumping out to a quick 10-4 lead, thanks to 5 from Lamar Stevens.  The Lions moved the lead to 14-4 as the Buckeyes were ice cold from the floor, hitting only 2 of their first 11 shot attempts.  Duane Washington drilled a corner three to cut the lead to 14-7, but a 4-0 Penn State run forced Chris Holtmann to call timeout with 10:31 left in the first half and Penn State leading 18-7.  A Penn State triple upped the lead to 21-7 before a Kaleb Wesson score on the block made the score 21-9.  The Buckeyes would go on a 7-0 run following a Penn State bucket to cut the lead to 23-16 including a Kaleb Wesson 3 to cut the lead to 5. A Penn State score was followed by a Washington free throw. Another Penn State 3 was answered by an Andre Wesson corner 3 but Penn State hit yet another triple to get the Lion lead back to 10.  A 7-0 Penn State run bumped the lead to 35-21 before a Washington triple cut the lead to 11 with 1:20 left in the half. A Penn State score followed by an old fashioned 3 point play by Kaleb Wesson cut the lead back to 10. As soon as Ohio State gained a little momentum, Penn State hit another 3 and after a Buckeye turnover another Lion score put Penn State up 15 and that’s the score the teams would head to the locker rooms with, Penn State leading 42-27. The red hot Lions hit 46% of their 3’s in the first half which for a team that shoots less than 30% from out there, enabled Penn State to grab the big early lead.  The hot Penn State shooting, combined with Ohio State’s struggles from the field and only 3 of 7 from the stripe spelled early doom for the Buckeyes. Kaleb Wesson led all scorers with 12 first half points.

A Penn State bucket to start the second half was answered by a pair of Andre Wesson 3’s, but once again Penn State hit another 3 to slow Ohio State’s momentum.  Kaleb Wesson split a pair of free throws and Penn State followed with a 5-0 run to lead by 18. 2 Washington free throws sent the teams to the benches at the under 16 timeout with Penn State leading 52-36. Penn State scored the next 4 to grab their largest lead of 20 before a quick 4-0 run by Ohio State trimmed the lead to 16. The Buckeyes would cut the lead to 14 and Penn State’s Lamar Stevens picked up his 4th personal foul at the 10:48 mark meaning the Buckeyes needed to take advantage.  Unfortunately, they could not.  Penn State’s hot shooting continued and after another 3 found the bottom of the ropes, the Nits led 69-52.  The Buckeyes struggled to get any closer than 14.  Each time the Buckeyes started to make a run, the Lions would hit a big shot to stem the tide. A Duane Washington 3 cut the lead to 13, but time wasn’t on Ohio State’s side. After a pair of Penn State free throws, Kaleb Wesson hit a 3 to cut the lead to 12, but on the ensuing possession, Stevens drove the lane for an emphatic dunk to put the stamp on this one.  A late flurry by Ohio State enabled them to shoot 45% from deep (9-20), but only 42.6% from the floor.  Penn State, who have struggled from deep all season long, hit 47% from out there and 54% overall.

The Buckeyes looked a little road weary early and Penn State shot unusually well from beyond the arc and Ohio State paid for it.  Penn State looked like they wanted this game more from the jump and punched the Buckeyes in the mouth, building a big lead and never allowing Ohio State to really pose a challenge. This game felt a little like walking into a hornets nest.  Penn State was a desperate basketball team, coming off 3 straight losses, and they blitzed Ohio State before they settled in.  Bottom line, Ohio State needs more from guys like C.J. Walker and Kyle Young, who combined for just 2 points.  Washington gave them a spark off the bench, but Luther Muhammad scored just 6, all from the line.  Right now, they are too reliant offensively on a handful of guys. When they were playing well in December, they were getting production offensively from a number of players and right now, they are just not getting the balance they need. Until they do, they are going to have struggles at times to score and go through stretches of empty possessions.  They have a chance to bounce back with a pair of very winnable games next week and they become extremely important for a team that is fighting to climb in what’s become a very competitive Big Ten conference.

Ohio State will suit up again on Thursday evening, hosting Minnesota at the Schott.  Tip time is scheduled for 6:30 pm airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris

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