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Penn State Hoops Falls To No. 4 Ohio State 92-82 Despite Second-Half Surge

Penn State men’s basketball (7-11, 4-10 Big Ten) made things interesting, but ultimately lost to No. 4 Ohio State (18-4, 12-4 Big Ten) 92-82 Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Myreon Jones led the team with 18 points and Jamari Wheeler had one of his best games of the season, but it wasn’t enough to beat a presumed tournament one seed.

How It Happened

Ohio State got off to a hot start by hitting its first three attempts from beyond the arc. However, the Nittany Lions didn’t let things get out of hand, and early points from John Harrar and Myles Dread had the score at 11-9 to the Buckeyes at the first media timeout.

Ohio State went on a 9-3 run out of the break, and a Musa Jallow slam dunk forced Jim Ferry to call timeout. The Nittany Lions played at a near frantic tempo, as if needing to make up for the conceded points all at the same time.

Through the middle of the first half, the two teams traded buckets, with Ohio State maintaining roughly a seven-point lead. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, leading scorers Myreon Jones and Seth Lundy got on the board during that stretch.

Then, Wheeler decided it was his time to take over.

The senior hit back-to-back threes from ridiculous range to tie the game at 31 with 5:40 to go, a scene that most definitely would have gotten the Bryce Jordan Center rocking in a normal year.

Wheeler’s hot streak gave the Nittany Lions a confidence boost that saw them play neck-and-neck with the Buckeyes for the remainder of half. Sam Sessoms cut the Ohio State lead to one, but a Justin Ahrens buzzer-beater had the Buckeyes ahead 47-43 after 20 minutes.

The Nittany Lions came to play at the start of the second half. Wheeler found Brockington for a breakaway alley-oop, and a Seth Lundy three pointer gave the Nittany Lions a 50-49 advantage, their first lead since 18:55 in the first half.

Ohio State was frustrated and made some careless mistakes. Lundy capitalized with another three, the Buckeyes committed a careless foul, and Wonderwall blared as Penn State took a 56-51 lead with 15:09 remaining.

Ohio State got back into its own, and a 15-0 run had the Buckeyes back in front with 11:29 to play.

The status quo resumed, in which Chris Holtmann’s group led by about a half-dozen. Penn State had trouble closing the gap, although Dread took a timely charge on EJ Liddell with seven minutes remaining, the Ohio State standout’s fourth personal.

With just under four minutes to play, Jallow picked Wheeler’s pocket and the Buckeyes went up 80-72. It seemed like that would be the nail in the Lions’ coffin, but Jones responded with a three to keep it a two possession affair.

The Nittany Lions kept it at a six-point deficit entering the final minute, but Duane Washington Jr. converted an and-one that sealed the deal. Foul-ball ensued, with the game ultimately ending 92-82 in favor of the Buckeyes.

Takeaways

  • After this game, that loss to Nebraska will hurt Ferry and the team even more. Penn State was never supposed to beat the No. 4 team in the nation, but the fight the Nittany Lions showed against the Buckeyes was remarkable. Penn State continuously shows it’s better than its 4-10 conference record, but if the team can’t close, it doesn’t belong near the bubble of the NCAA Tournament.
  • Jamari Wheeler was HUGE for Penn State, and not in his usual defensive role. The senior showed a rare flash of offensive creativity, highlighted by two monster threes to eliminate a six-point deficit midway through the first half. What’s more, Wheeler was a threat with the ball today. The point guard looked he could score with every drive, which helped draw the defense away from other shooters such as Seth Lundy and Myreon Jones.
  • Penn State used an unorthodox five-out system which was surprisingly effective. Harrar played on the elbow, which gave the shifty guards ample space to penetrate without the big bodies too close for comfort. It will be interesting to see if Ferry elects to keep this as an option moving forward.

What’s Next

Penn State travels to face Iowa on Sunday at 5 p.m. The post-THON matchup will be broadcast live on FS1.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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