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Penn State Hoops Outpaced By Ohio State 76-64

Penn State men’s basketball (4-4, 0-1 Big Ten) couldn’t keep up with a talented Ohio State (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) squad Sunday night at the BJC.

Micah Shrewsberry’s group fell 76-64 to the Buckeyes in a contest that included lights-out shooting for Chris Holtmann’s team. Despite a hot start that was paced by Seth Lundy, Ohio State hit 12 threes on the night compared to Penn State’s five. The visitors managed to stay one step ahead of the Nittany Lions all night thanks to the efficiency on that side of the ball.

How It Happened

Malakai Branham opened things for the Buckeyes with a trey, while Penn State’s old friend Jamari Wheeler followed that up with an easy lay-in. However, things balanced out when Seth Lundy grabbed quick nine points. That run, paired with a three-pointer for Jalen Pickett, handed the Nittany Lions a 12-5 lead and forced Ohio State to take a timeout with 16:24 to go in the first half.

The Buckeyes’ offense woke up after Chris Holtmann’s timeout. A couple threes and a finish inside by Meechie Johnson Jr. helped spark Ohio State’s offense, and it took a 19-15 lead into a timeout with 11:58 left. If it weren’t for a Sam Sessoms three, the Buckeyes would’ve had a 14-0 run out of the timeout.

Penn State struggled to keep up with pace over the next few minutes. Kyle Young and Cedric Russell hit the Buckeyes’ seventh sixth and seventh three-pointers of the night, while Micah Shrewsberry’s team went on a nearly three-minute scoring drought.

Spaced out buckets for Pickett and John Harrar kept the Nittany Lions afloat, but scoring from Branham, EJ Liddell, and Zed Key kept Ohio State up by double-digits. The Buckeyes took a 41-30 lead into the locker room.

Penn State opened the second half with two quick turnovers while Ohio State went 3-for-3 from the field. Suddenly, the Buckeyes were up 18 points with 16:22 left to play.

The Nittany Lions put together a 6-0 scoring run after the slow start, which included scores from Harrar and Jaheam Cornwall. Penn State trailed 59-45 with about 12 minutes left, while a roughly three-minute scoring drought followed for both sides. Pickett hit a nifty finish inside to cut that drought, and Penn State was down 12 points with eight minutes to go.

Back-and-forth scoring continued for a bit until Cornwall made a great play on offense to set Harrar up for an easy two. The Gardner-Webb transfer followed that with a great defensive play and drew a foul that sent him to the line. The BJC started to rock from there and Penn State trailed 64-55.

Cornwall hit another jumper on the next possession, and another Harrar finish inside kept things rolling. The Nittany Lions were down 67-59 with 2:39 to go. Pickett opened out of the break by nailing a pair of free throws, but Justin Ahrens responded with yet another trey.

Pickett earned three points the old fashioned way by nailing a lay-in while fouled, but it was too little too late for Penn State. The Buckeyes drew fouls the rest of the way and did their job at the free throw line, sealing the 76-64 victory.

Takeaways

  • Ohio State saw a bit of a scoring drought in the second half, but the deficit was just too big to overcome for Shrewberry’s group thanks to its struggles in defending the perimeter. The Buckeyes shot an efficient 12-for-27 from deep, including multiple three-balls for Justin Ahrens, Meechie Johnson Jr., and Kyle Young. Anytime it felt like Penn State might put something together and battle back, one of those guys hit a dagger.
  • Penn State turned the ball over 15 times Sunday night, nine of which came in the second half. The Buckeyes’ offense was tough enough to stop at times, and the Nittany Lions didn’t make it any easier on themselves by wasting several possessions down the stretch.
  • Jaheam Cornwall hasn’t shown a lot so far this season, but the transfer guard offered a bit of a glimpse into what he can do with that second-half run. He sparked the late comeback effort with his beautiful dish to The King of Delco inside, and followed that with a gritty defensive play. Cornwall also nailed a jumper that was arguably the most exciting moment of the game for the BJC crowd.
  • Jamari Wheeler got booed early and often in this one. The Nittany Lion who elected to transfer to Columbus just after 2020-21 season’s end heard it from the crowd just about every time he touched the ball. He still managed nine points and nine assists on 37 minutes played in his return to Happy Valley, however.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will try to bounce back when they host Wagner at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. That game will be streaming on BTN+.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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