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Penn State Hoops Earns Much-Needed Win At Home, Finishes Off No. 21 Ohio State 90-76

Penn State men’s basketball (13-5, 3-4 Big Ten) righted the ship after a three-game skid that saw tragic losses to Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Ohio State (12-6, 2-5 Big Ten) was desperate for a win as well, coming out of a four-game losing streak that saw them drop from No. 6 to No. 21. A win against Nebraska stopped the bleeding, but a hungry Nittany Lions team and a loud Bryce Jordan Center made sure the Buckeyes left Happy Valley with a loss.

How It Happened

Seth Lundy got things going for Penn State, drawing a foul while pulling up from beyond the arc. He’d only sink one of his three free throws, and two back-to-back turnovers from both teams seemed to make this game destined for a grinder. A botched alley-oop followed by a Buckeye layup only added to Penn State’s worries.

Lamar Stevens would take things into his own hands, grabbing his own rebound and finishing at the rim with a corner-three to wash it down with, making it a 6-4 Penn State game just four minutes into the game.

The hustle kept coming from Penn State. A loose ball sent the whole team diving to the ground, and Stevens dished to a wide-open Lundy in transition which splashed in for a trio of well-deserved points. Mike Watkins made his presence know soon after. A backwards alley-oop and some ~sweet~ old school post action — plus excellent defense inside — helped push Penn State’s lead into double digits.

Stevens kept up his early-game wizardry with a turnaround jumper from just outside the block and a big three from the top of the arc to make it a 21-7 Penn State lead.

After two controversial calls by the refs, Ohio State began to push back a bit. Kaleb Wesson put the pressure on, burying a three pointer and bullying the Nittany Lions down in the post to make it a seven-point game. Myreon Jones would nail a jumper to stop the bleeding a bit, but it was clear that the Buckeyes wouldn’t go down without a fight.

A slick looking drive from Jones couldn’t find its way in and another iffy call from the referees sent Duane Washington Jr. to the line for the Buckeyes. But a raucous BJC caused him to airball his first shot, and a Lundy finish made it a 28-17 Penn State lead with 4:14 remaining in the half.

The fantastic defense kept up for Penn State and its offense stayed chugging. Myreon Jones made another crafty move to nail a jumper and a shot clock-beating floater from Jamari Wheeler gave Penn State a 37-26 lead to keep it in double-digits. Ohio State’s struggles at the free throw line were keeping Penn State in control, but a Wesson and-one was finished and the Buckeyes looked ready to roll as the seconds ticked away.

But a Curtis Jones Jr. three and a perfect trip to the line from Myreon Jones made sure Penn State’s lead wouldn’t be touched. Trent Buttrick closed out the half with a thunderous block at the rim, denying Kyle Young two points and sealing Penn State’s 42-27 lead entering the second half.

The two teams traded threes to open the second half, but Penn State would keep its lead thanks to nonstop hustle and grind. Perhaps more importantly, the points kept coming. The Nittany Lions would flirt with a 20-point lead once again after a Lundy trey made it 52-34 Penn State with 16:18 left in the game.

Penn State would finally breach the 20-point gap after Izaiah Brockington made his debut on the box score with a mid ranger and John Harrar continued his solid play, throwing down a powerful slam in the paint. The Buckeyes would fight back however, as The Brothers Wesson continued to keep the rout within reason. They combined for 26 of Ohio State’s 42 points, but the Nittany Lions kept a 14-point lead with 12:40 left.

Penn State got near 20 once again, with sloppy offensive play from Ohio State costing it much-needed buckets. Some equally sloppy play from the Nittany Lions would put a damper on things, however. A three-minute scoreless stretch wore on before being broken by Dread free throws.

The game began to drag as the second half came down to its closing minutes. Both teams looked tired as the intensity of the first half seemed to catch up with them, and Penn State just looked ready to officially be done with things. The teams would keep up with their sharp shooting though, as Stevens and the Buckeyes traded threes. This made it a 75-62 Penn State lead with 3:13 left in the game.

Barbs continued to be traded, after a gravity-defying slam by Stevens woke up a tired BJC following another Buckeyes’ three. A Watkins swat later on breathed some more live into the BJC as the crowd stood up to applaud, and the game closed out with several Ohio State fouls and several made free throws for Penn State.

Takeaways

  • There was physical play throughout, and the free throw totals showed this clearly. Ohio State went 21-29 from the charity stripe while Penn State shot a higher percentage, going 23-28.
  • It was another vintage Lamar Stevens performance, as the senior filled the stat sheet with a team-leading 24 points, along with three rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. NBA scouts should be on the lookout.
  • Penn State has been pretty streaky with its shooting this season, but the shooting never seemed more accurate against the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions shot a solid 54% from the field compared to Ohio State’s 41%, helping keep themselves ahead by double digits for most of the game.
  • Myreon Jones provided a much-needed second scoring option as usual. The sophomore dropped 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting on the Buckeyes, along with four assists and two steals.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will go back on the road to visit Michigan in Ann Arbor next Wednesday, January 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and you can catch all the action on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a junior majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Philosophy. He's a Philly sports fan, which causes him existential dread on the daily coupled with a deep distaste for the current state of Star Wars. Send him death threats at [email protected] and follow @m_paolizzi on Twitter for a near constant supply of second-hand embarrassment.

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