Ohio State Gains Hard Fought Win Over Penn State

13th ranked Ohio State built a big first half lead, let it slip away and came back late to defeat upset minded Penn State 83-79 to move to 13-4 and 7-4 in the Big Ten. With the loss, Penn State fell to 5-7 and 2-6 in conference play. The Buckeyes turned it over a season high 17 times, but knocked down 20 of 21 free throw attempts and turned up the defensive intensity over the last 7 plus minutes, holding Penn State to just 9 points in the last 8:14 to get a big home win. The Buckeyes held Penn State without a field goal for over 4 minutes late in the ball game to turn a 6 point deficit into what turned out to be a four point win. E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 22 points and 7 rebounds, including 8 big points in crunch time when the Buckeyes needed him. Justice Sueing added 12 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of the year, and Zed Key and Kyle Young chipped in 11 and 10 respectively. Penn State’s Seth Lundy led all scorers with 26. 

It was all Buckeyes in the first 4 minutes of the game as Ohio State raced out to an 8-0 lead.  E.J. Liddell kicked off the scoring after being fouled on his jumper from the left elbow and bagging both freebies. After a Penn State miss, Justice Sueing found Justin Ahrens in the right corner for three and after Duane Washington missed a three, Kyle Young came flying in from the perimeter and cleaned up the miss while being fouled. Young completed the ‘and one’ opportunity.  Penn State finally got on the board with a runner off the glass with just over 17 minutes left in the half. The Buckeyes increased the lead to 11-2 at the first media break when Zed Key scored on a put back while being fouled and knocked down the free throw. Out of the timeout, Washington found Ahrens in the left corner for three and Ohio State increased the lead to 14-2. Penn State went on a little 5-0 burst to cut the lead to 7 briefly before Ahrens drilled another triple and the lead was back to 10. The Buckeyes outscored the Lions 4-3 over the next 2 minutes and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led the Nittany Lions 21-10. A 6-2 Penn State run cut the Buckeye lead to 7, but back to back Zed Key buckets at the rim, catching the ball deep and sealing his defender on both occasions for scores, put the Buckeyes back up 11. A pair of Lion free throws and a triple cut the lead to six, but Key found space at the block for a score to put Ohio State back up 8. Another Penn State triple cut the lead to 5 but on the ensuing possession, C.J. Walker got into the lane off dribble penetration and found Liddell for a dunk to put the Buckeyes up 7. Penn State answered with an old-fashioned three point play, but Duane Washington Jr. drilled a triple on Ohio State’s next possession to give Ohio State a 34-27 lead at the final media timeout of the first half. A Buckeye turnover out of the timeout turned into a Lion triple to cut the lead to 4 but only briefly. Liddell found the range from 12 and after a Penn State turnover, Sueing scored at the rim and Ohio State led by 7. After a Penn State miss, Walker got out in transition and got to the rim for a score while being fouled and the Big Ten leader in free throw shooting knocked it down and the Buckeyes were up 11. Penn State answered with an ‘and one’ of their own to cut the lead back to 8 with just under 2 minutes to go. A pair of free throws each way kept the 8-point Ohio State lead but a pair of late backcourt turnovers led to two Penn State scores to cut the lead to just 4 at the break. At the end of the first 20 minutes, Ohio State was on top 43-39 as the Lions closed the half with a 9-2 run to make it a ballgame. Penn State’s Seth Lundy led all scorers in the first half while Ohio State was led by 9 each from Zed Key and Justin Ahrens. Neither team shot it particularly well from behind the arc as Ohio State hit just 4 of 12 and Penn State hit on 4 of 11, while Penn State made 45% overall and Ohio State hit on 53% of their shot attempts.

The Buckeyes started the half with the basketball and after a Kyle Young offensive rebound, Walker drilled a triple and Ohio State led by seven. A 7-0 Penn State run, fueled by a pair of Buckeye turnovers, tied the score for the first time since the opening tap and at the first media timeout of the second half, the game was deadlocked at 46. An Ohio State turnover turned into a Penn State triple for their first lead of the game, but Sueing answered, going baseline for a score while being fouled. He made the ensuing free throw to tie the score.  Another Ohio State turnover, their 14th of the game turned into a transition score for the Lions but Washington found Sueing with the lob for a dunk to tie the score once again. A pair of Penn State free throws after Kyle Young picked up his 4th foul, put Penn State back up, but Meechie Johnson got baseline after a loose ball scramble and Johnson scored to tie it. Four straight Penn State points put the Lions up four and Chris Holtmann called timeout with 12:24 to go. Liddell hit a short jumper mid paint to cut the deficit to a pair but a Penn State score prior to the under 12 media timeout put the Nittany Lions up 59-55 with 11:12 remaining. A Penn State bucket increased the lead to six but a pair of Liddell free throws cut it back to four. Another Lion hoop was answered by a Young triple from the left wing, but five straight Penn State points gave the Lions their largest lead of 8. Key scored on a put back to cut it back to six and at the under 8 media timeout, Penn State led 70-64 and was heading to the stripe to increase the lead. Penn State split the pair and Liddell made a pair to cut the lead to five. A Liddell turnaround in the paint cut the lead to 3, but on the next possession, Kyle Young picked up his fifth foul and had to leave the game. Penn State knocked down both freebies to give the Lions a five-point lead. Sueing scored after an offensive rebound to cut the lead back to three and after a Penn State miss, Washington was fouled going to the rim and bagged both to get Ohio State within just a point. The Buckeye defense, which cranked up the intensity, holding Penn State without a field goal for over four minutes, forced a miss. Sueing then got to the rim and looked to be fouled but no call and on the Penn State possession, Walker was called for what seemed to be a touch foul, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the game and at the final media timeout, Penn State was clinging to a 73-72 lead. Out of the timeout, Penn State missed both free throws and the Buckeyes reclaimed the lead when Liddell got to the rim for a score. Penn State came right back with a triple, but Ohio State answered as Washington drilled a triple from straight on top to put the Buckeyes back up 1 with 2:26 to go. Penn State went back up two when another triple fell, but a pair of Sueing free throws tied the game. After a Penn State turnover, Liddell, fouled while shooting a short jumper, knocked down his free throws giving Ohio State a two-point lead, 81-79 and Penn State called timeout with 56.6 seconds remaining. Penn State’s possession ended with a missed three and Ohio State had a shot clock violation giving the ball back to Penn State with 15.3 seconds remaining. A floater in the lane missed and Liddell ripped down the rebound and was fouled with 1.9 seconds to go. Liddell drilled both to seal it and give Ohio State a hard fought win.

A tough, physical game with Ohio State fouling out two starters, but they executed down the stretch in the last four minutes on both ends. In addition, they made their last 10 free throws and got several big stops to gut out a big win. They overcame 23 Penn State points off turnovers and they clearly need to play better, but good teams find a way and make the plays necessary to win these types of games and Ohio State did just that. The Lions came into the game leading the conference in steals per game and they like to gum up the game and make it difficult on their opponents, trapping way out on the floor and forcing them out of their sets.  They did a good job of that in stretches against Ohio State, but to the Buckeyes credit, they overcame it. This is a type of game the team can learn and gain confidence from in late game situations, which they have struggled with at times this season.

Ohio State is scheduled to take the floor again Sunday afternoon, hosting Michigan State in the Schott. Tip time is scheduled for 1 pm and airing on CBS.

Jason Harris                                                                                                            


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