Penn State Hoops Upsets No. 8 Ohio State Again, 79-56
Penn State (19-9, 9-6) defeated No. 8 Ohio State (22-6, 13-2) once again, this time at home. The Nittany Lions coasted on a strong performance from Tony Carr, who finished with 30 points. Both of the Buckeyes’ conference losses have come from Penn State, which is strengthening its NCAA Tournament chances playing great basketball down the stretch.
How It Happened
Lamar Stevens and Kaleb Wesson traded baskets to begin the game, before Wesson quickly went out with an injury on the Buckeyes third possession. Right after, Tony Carr caused the crowd to erupt as he tossed an alley-oop to Mike Watkins to give Penn State its first lead at 6-4. Carr got to work on the scoring end with just under 15 minutes to play in the first half, hitting a three after a Watkins offensive rebound. Penn State’s defense continued to stifle the Buckeyes, as it went on a 10-2 run to put the Nittany Lions up by 11 with 13:09 to go.
The Buckeyes continued to attack Penn State’s interior, however, scoring their next two baskets from inside the paint. Carr continued his stellar play against the Buckeyes in the first half, hitting three of his first five shots and getting to the foul line for three more points. The Buckeyes struggled to find consistent scoring for much of the half, with leading scorer Keita Bates-Diop dropping in his first bucket on a breakaway with just under eight minutes left. He was averaging 20 points per game coming into the matchup, but only managed four in the opening frame.
The Nittany Lions hit a rough patch midway through the first half, not hitting a field goal for over five minutes. Josh Reaves finally broke that streak with 4:43 left, splashing a three-pointer from the top of the key. Julian Moore got some playing time for Watkins late in the half, and made the most of it. He locked down Ohio State’s freshman stud in Wesson, swatting one shot and forcing a shot clock violation.
The first half ended in style, as Josh Reaves did his best Nick Foles impression. He found Tony Carr on a perfect full-court inbound pass for an and-one with less than five seconds left. Penn State had its largest lead at the half, playing aggressive basketball while getting to the line 15 times. On the other side, Ohio State couldn’t buy a bucket from anywhere. They shot 27 percent, didn’t make a three, and only put up a meager 21 points after 20 minutes.
The second half started off on a great note for the Nittany Lions, as center Mike Watkins rejected a Bates-Diop layup inside. Then, Shep Garner really started to heat up. The senior from Chester, Pa. hit two consecutive threes, one from on the edge of the logo. Carr kept exploiting the Buckeyes, muscling his way inside for a tough three-point play in traffic. The lead ballooned to as much as 30 points in the beginning of the second half, but the Buckeyes slowly began to creep back into the game. They went on a quick 11-0 run in five minutes, with the Nittany Lions unable to score in that time until the 12:31 mark.
After a Watkins free throw, Garner drained another three to put him at 4-for-6 from beyond the arc on the night. Bates-Diop countered with a triple, making the lead only 16 with 10:32 to go. Reaves connected with Watkins on another lob, as the big man continued to show why he’s a force to be reckoned with down low. Carr gave Penn State a little more breathing room, hitting a three from the corner to bring his point total to 26. The outcome was never in question afterwards, as the Nittany Lions had multiple players contribute in all facets of the game.
Ohio State shot much better in the second half, shooting above 55 percent after going ice cold in the first. The Buckeyes were paced by juniors Bates-Diop and C.J. Jackson, but couldn’t get enough shots to fall on the road. Carr had one of his best performances of the year, as Watkins had another double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Player Of The Game
Tony Carr | Guard | Sophomore
The Nittany Lions’ go-to playmaker did it again. After draining 10 of 14 shots for 28 points in Columbus just a few weeks ago, Carr lit up the scoreboard for 30 points, five rebounds, and three assists during a White Out at the Bryce Jordan Center. He won the battle between the two best scorers in the conference, as the Big Ten leader Keita Bates-Diop could only muster 10 points. Number 10 also got to the line an astounding 11 times, testing the Buckeyes’ big men all night long. Expect Carr to put up more jaw-dropping numbers as the Nittany Lions enter a crucial three-game stretch to end the regular season.
The Nittany Lions will go back on the road Sunday to take on No. 6 Purdue at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers are coming off three straight losses, the most recent against unranked Wisconsin, and hope to get back in contention for a Big Ten Championship. Tip off is at 8 p.m. and game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.