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Penn State Hoops Outlasts Ohio State In Much-Needed 75-71 Win

Penn State men’s basketball (17-11, 8-9 Big Ten) overcame Ohio State (11-17, 3-14 Big Ten) 75-71 on Thursday night from the Schottenstein Center.

Through a competitive matchup, Jalen Pickett tallied 23 points in the Nittany Lions’ second-half surge.

How It Happened

Head coach Micah Shrewsberry rolled out a familiar starting five featuring Seth Lundy, Kebba Njie, Jalen Pickett, Camren Wynter, and Andrew Funk. On the other side of the court, Chris Holtmann sent a sturdy group of four freshmen and fifth-year senior Justice Sueing to the floor.

Njie couldn’t take control of the tip-off, and the Buckeyes grabbed the first possession. Ohio State didn’t convert, but Njie redeemed his opening blunder with a jumper from inside the arc.

Bruce Thornton nailed a triple, and Lundy immediately responded with three points of his own. Njie hit the deck to pick up an offensive board, and the Penn State bench called a timeout to maintain its possession. Shrewsberry was all smiles in the huddle through just three minutes of play and a two-point lead.

Out of the timeout, Wynter knocked down a three followed by an identical play from Buckeye Brice Sensabaugh. With that conversion, Penn State broke its three-point team record through a single season with 295.

The threes continued to drop as Lundy hit another, highlighted by an unselfish assist from Pickett. The senior drew a foul from behind the arc and earned three shots from the charity stripe in the following possession. Lundy sank two of three and jumped Penn State to a 12-8 lead.

Thornton closed the gap with the sixth three of the game, but Wynter added his second to maintain the lead.

Freshman Evan Mahaffey walked through the Buckeye defense for back-to-back layups and pushed the Nittany Lions to a four-point lead. The Ohio native closed out a 7-0 run for Penn State before the media timeout about midway through the opening half.

Kanye Clary converted a tough look out of the break to secure his first two points of the game off a floating jump shot. Then, Felix Okpara and Sensabaugh each secured back-to-back buckets and grabbed Ohio State’s first lead of the game after about 12 minutes of play.

Pickett found himself in foul trouble early in the first half, which resulted in a call from Shrewsberry to have his playmaker wait it out. Clary and Wynter stepped up in Pickett’s absence and converted a combined 15 points along with 14 from Lundy throughout the remainder of the half.

Neither team could connect with the net in the final minutes of play, and Penn State and Ohio State headed into the locker room knotted at 37.

Wynter picked up right where he left off in the second half and opened the scoring with a snazzy triple to secure Penn State’s lead out of the break.

Njie drew an and-one opportunity and nailed his shot from the line to earn a two-possession lead for the Nittany Lions. Shortly after, Lundy and Sensabaugh traded conversions until Pickett dropped his first three of the game.

Isaac Likekele kicked out a pass to Roddy Gayle Jr. who released a picture-perfect shot to cut Penn State’s lead to one out of the media timeout. Moments after that play, Njie got caught up with a Buckeye in the paint and drew a foul, but immediately cradled his shoulder in pain. The freshman received medical attention on the bench and never returned to the floor.

Ohio State found itself on a tear midway through the second half and posted an 8-0 run and picked up a series of fouls committed by the Nittany Lions. Funk notched his third foul of the half and hit the bench in the midst of his extremely quiet night.

Led by Pickett, the Nittany Lions made up their deficit quickly and the teams traded leads for the next several minutes. Likelele and Pickett championed their squads and remained locked within a possession for much of the tail end of the second half.

Pickett put the moves on the Ohio State defense with a turn-around floater and yet couldn’t secure a foul from the officials through contact. The music began to play for Pickett and the fifth-year drained another clutch bucket to the sound of the buzzer to put Penn State up by five.

Thornton and Sensabaugh put up consecutive buckets to bring the game within one point, however, Pickett wanted none of that and picked up an and-one opportunity. The fifth-year sunk his shot and was sent back to the line one possession later as a result of the bonus. He knocked down both and lengthened Penn State’s lead to a two-possession game.

Ohio State’s final chance to convert fell short despite five attempts at the basket in the dwindling seconds of play. The Nittany Lions came out on top of the highly competitive 75-71 matchup.

Takeaways:

  • This was Cam Wynter’s night. For the point guard who averages around eight points per game, Wynter stepped up when Jalen Pickett and Andrew Funk got into foul trouble and didn’t look back. He tallied 18 points, six boards, and one assist in his highest-scoring outing of the season.
  • Foul trouble was the story of Penn State’s outing at Ohio State. Pickett couldn’t contribute much in the first half due to racking up fouls, and the same went for Funk in the closing half. Lundy, along with Wynter, consistently carried the Nittany Lions when one of their snipers was tied to the bench.
  • It was an atypically quiet night for Funk and Myles Dread. The sharpshooting pair notched exactly zero points and their conversions were sorely missed. Had Funk and Dread lit up tonight, this game wouldn’t have been quite as tight.
  • Penn State needed this win to keep marching toward the big dance. Thank you, Jalen Pickett.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will return to Happy Valley for the team’s Wear White game against Rutgers. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 26, at the Bryce Jordan Center.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a senior from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in journalism. She's an associate editor and talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State, too. You can usually find her on a porch, but if not, feel free to contact Keeley on Twitter @keeleylammm or [email protected].

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