Ohio State Wins Sixth Straight Road Game

4th ranked Ohio State won their sixth straight road game and seventh overall defeating Penn State in State College 92-82 to move to 18-4 overall and 12-4 in Big Ten play. With the loss, Penn State slipped to 7-11 and 4-10. E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 23 and Duane Washington added 21, while C.J. Walker scored 13. The win sets up a monster matchup in Columbus on Sunday as the Buckeyes will welcome conference leader and 3rd ranked Michigan to the Schott with conference leadership on the line.

After an empty possession each way to open the game, Penn State got on the board first with a bucket from the left wing.  The Buckeyes took control from there with three straight triples from Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens and E.J. Liddell to go up 9-2. Penn State stopped the 9-0 run with a triple of their own and after a pair of Liddell free throws; four straight Nittany Lion points cut the lead to two at the first media timeout of the game with Ohio State on top 11-9.  Out of the timeout, Kyle Young lobbed to Liddell for two at the rim and after another Ahrens 3; Ohio State led 16-9. Penn State answered with an old-fashioned three-point play but Justice Sueing got to the rim off the bounce for a score and on the next possession, Liddell found Musa Jallow streaking along the baseline for a dunk and Penn State took a timeout with Ohio State leading 20-12 and 12:42 left in the half. After a Penn State turnover, C.J. Walker found the bottom with a foul line jumper and Ohio State led by 10. A Nittany Lion bucket on the other end stopped the 6-0 Buckeye burst and after a Lion triple cut the lead quickly back to five. Washington ended the mini Penn State run with a three from the left corner, but a Penn State long jumper fell to cut the lead back to six. On the next Buckeye possession, Washington got into the lane off the bounce and dished to Young who scored at the rim putting Ohio State up eight. Another Penn State triple cut the lead back to five but back-to-back Liddell jumpers from just beyond the free throw line put the Buckeyes back up nine. The Nits drilled another three to cut the lead to six and at the under 8 media timeout, Ohio State was ahead 31-25. Penn State, who typically struggles from beyond the arc, drilled two more to tie the score forcing Ohio State to call timeout with 5:42 remaining in the half with Penn State on a 9-0 run. The Buckeyes went back up two after Liddell and Jallow both split a pair of freebies and after Penn State split a pair of their own, Jallow found Young at the block with a nifty pass to put Ohio State back up three. A Penn State bucket at the rim after being goaltended cut the lead to just one at the final media timeout of the half and 3:30 on the clock. Liddell scored at the block to increase the lead to three but yet another Penn State triple retied the score. The Buckeyes went back ahead when Young found Jallow along the baseline and Musa floated in a short jumper. The Nits tied the score again with a rebound and put back but when Liddell scored while being fouled and knocked down the free throw, Ohio State led by 3. A pair of Lion free throws trimmed the lead back to one but Walker buried a pair of free throws on the other end to answer. Two more Penn State free throws cut the lead back to one but Seth Towns found Ahrens in the right corner for three at the horn to give Ohio State a 47-43 lead at the break. Penn State, who usually struggles from beyond the arc, only hitting on just under 34% on the year, used the 3-ball to keep them in the game at the half, hitting 54% to keep the game close. The Buckeyes hit a blistering 65.4% from the floor including 6 of 9 from long range in the first 20 minutes, but with the Lions answering seemingly everything on their end, Ohio State led by just 4. E.J. Liddell led all scorers with 17, while Justin Ahrens added 9 on three threes.

A quick 4-0 run to start the half by Penn State tied the score but E.J. Liddell scored at the block to put Ohio State back ahead.  A Penn State triple gave the Nittany Lions their first lead since 2-0 three minutes into the half and after an old-fashioned three-point play, Penn State led by 4.  Jallow scored with the reverse lay-up at the rim but another Penn State 3 put the Nittany Lions up five at the first media timeout of the second half. Penn State was at it again out of the timeout and after another triple fell, the Nittany Lions led by eight. Walker ended the 12-2 Penn State run with a triple from the right point late in the shot clock to cut the deficit to five. Penn State went back up seven but the Buckeyes came storming back.  Starting with a pair of Walker free throws and a Washington old-fashioned three-point play, Ohio State was within two. Walker evened the score with a transition lay in and on the next possession, Washington drilled a triple while being fouled sending the teams to their respective benches at the under 12 media timeout with Ohio State up three. Washington drilled the free throw to put Ohio State up 4 and on a 10-0 run. After a Nittany Lion offensive foul and turnover, Liddell split a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes up five. A Gene Brown triple from the left corner ballooned the lead to eight, but Penn State ended the Ohio State 15-0 run knocking down three of four free throw attempts to cut the lead back to five. Washington’s three from the right wing put Ohio State back up eight and after two Penn State free throws, Walker buried a jumper from the right baseline and at the under 8 media timeout, Ohio State was on top 74-66. A 4-0 Penn State run trimmed the lead to four.  A Young bucket off the glass at the block put Ohio State back up six. Penn State scored at the rim off an inbounds pass to cut the lead back to four and the Lions called timeout with 5:08 remaining and Ohio State leading 76-72. Two Young free throws followed by a Young steal on the other end and kick out to Jallow for the transition lay in put Ohio State back up 8. A Penn State triple cut the lead back to five and at the final media timeout the Buckeyes led 80-75 with 2:51 remaining and Justice Sueing heading to the stripe. He buried both free throws and Ohio State was up seven. Penn State split a pair of free throws on the other end to cut the lead to six, but Liddell drilled a three from the left point to put the Buckeyes up nine with 1:30 to go. Penn State wouldn’t go away, however and after a quick Lion three, Penn State called timeout trailing 85-79 with 1:18 remaining. Washington took matters into his own hands, got to the rim off the bounce, and completed the old-fashioned three-point play to ostensibly end the ballgame.

This game was another example of the tremendous leadership this team has. They did not panic when they fell behind by eight early in the second half and as quickly as they fell behind, they took control just as quick. The defensive connectivity and unselfishness on the offensive end, giving up a shot to get a better one has become a hallmark of this basketball team this year. They truly have an amazing chemistry and they all seem to buy into their individual roles. The Buckeyes certainly have the making of a team who can make a deep run in March, but for now, four big ballgames remain with the goal of a Big Ten Championship still in play.

The Buckeyes return home to host 3rd ranked Michigan on Sunday afternoon in a game airing on CBS at 1 PM.

-Jason Harris

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