Penn State Hoops Falls Away Against Ohio State 79-67
Penn State men’s basketball (9-10, 3-5 Big Ten) lost on the road against Ohio State (13-5, 3-4 Big Ten) in its second matchup with Buckeyes of the season on Saturday afternoon.
Puff Johnson and Nick Kern Jr. were the most consistent scorers for Penn State in a poor offensive showing as the two wings combined for 25 points. Johnson had his best shooting performance all season, knocking down three triples in the game.
How It Happened
Mike Rhoades rolled out the same starting lineup that defeated No. 11 Wisconsin in a midweek shocker at the Bryce Jordan Center. Ohio State won the tip and got the scoring started on its first possession of the game thanks to an offensive rebound and a second chance opportunity. The Nittany Lions couldn’t connect on their first six shots and quickly fell behind by 10 points. At the under-six timeout, Penn State remained scoreless.
D’Marco Dunn got a nice look in the paint out of the timeout but couldn’t connect on the floater. Penn State transfer Evan Mahaffey took matters into his own hands for Ohio State and quickly extended the lead with back-to-back easy buckets in the paint. Rhoades called a timeout with 13:26 remaining with the Nittany Lions still off the scoreboard.
Jameel Brown finally began the scoring with a banked three-point shot as the shot clock expired. On the next play, Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound but was denied by the Buckeyes, who went into the under-twelve timeout leading 18-3. Brown drained a corner three after play restarted to give Penn State a little life and all of its points to date.
Johnson missed a three-pointer a couple of possessions later as the Nittany Lions continued to look out of sorts on the offensive side of the ball. Kanye Clary was able to get his first bucket of the game with less than 10 minutes to play in the half to cut the lead down to a dozen. Ace Baldwin Jr. then drilled a three next time down the court, and for the first time all afternoon, Penn State scored on back-to-back possessions.
At the under-eight media timeout, the Nittany Lions were shooting a poor 20% from the field while trailing 24-11 to the Buckeyes. Dunn missed a three-pointer from the wing that couldn’t fall in but Wahab grabbed the rebound, though he also missed as the shooting woes persisted for the blue and white.
Zach Hicks had a chance to cut into the deficit with a wide-open there from the top of the arc but he also could not rattle it home. Luckily for Penn State, the Buckeyes struggled to improve their advantage on the other end of the court.
Demetrius Lilley fouled Zed Key on the defensive end, who knocked down both shots at the line. Baldwin then found a wide-open Clary for a three on the other side of the court. The next time down the floor, Baldwin turned a broken possession into something positive with a back door cut from Kern and laid in his shot. However, Clary was unable to get the jumper to drop as momentum stalled for Penn State.
Ohio State got the last basket of the half to make it a 33-19 ballgame at the break. After starting the game down 16-0, Penn State was able to put itself in a position to make a comeback.
Hicks began the second half with a shot from deep that once again didn’t go in for the Nittany Lions. On the other end, Mahaffey went above the rim for the alley-oop dunk. Offensively, Wahab and Kern went to work, scoring on back-to-back trips up the floor for Penn State. However, Ohio State kept its 14-point lead with buckets of its own.
Kern continued to shoot with his hot hand and was able to get another bucket in the paint. After a disappointing first half, speed was the name of the game for Clary as he was able to get past his defender for an easy layup. Ohio State still led 41-27 at the under-sixteen timeout.
After the media timeout, the Buckeyes fouled Kern who went to the line and made both at the charity stripe. Baldwin got a good look from downtown but his shot was too strong. Ohio State made the Nittany Lions pay with its first three-pointer of the game on the other end.
Key used his size on consecutive trips on the offensive side to dominate the Nittany Lions inside and extend the Buckeyes lead to 53-31. Johnson stopped the Ohio State run with a corner three for his first made shot of the game. Thirty seconds later, he did it again making back-to-back three-pointers, to get his confidence going.
Baldwin and Dunn scored on back-to-back possessions as the Nittany Lions continued to fight. The problem for Penn State is it could not get stops on defense, especially inside. Johnson made another basket to improve his total to eight points, all coming in the last few minutes of game time. Ohio State once again had the answer, this time Bruce Thorton made his first bucket of the game with a three from the wing.
After the under-eight media timeout, Mahaffey made both of his free throws and Kern got the points back with a nice move and bucket of his own. Still down by 20 points, Johnson hit another three for the Nittany Lions. Kern found himself open in the paint for a floater to cut the deficit a little more.
Clary found himself open in transition and he hit the side-step three to make it a 71-57 contest with under four minutes left. The deficit was cut to a dozen with a Hicks shit from deep. Clary hit a three of his own as the Nittany Lions couldn’t miss all of a sudden. In a couple of minutes, Rhoades’ squad cut the lead from 20 points to nine.
Ohio State regained a double-digit lead with two made free throws. Lilley once again cut the lead to only nine, but time was running out on Penn State with only a minute left in the game. Time ran out on the Nittany Lions who could not get a victory on the road, falling to the Buckeys 79-67.
- It took nearly seven minutes for Penn State to finally get a bucket to fall. After a program-altering victory on Tuesday, the Nittany Lions came out as flat as they could have. There are no excuses for a start like that against an Ohio State team that is easily beatable.
- For most of the afternoon, the Nittany Lions looked out of sorts on the offensive side of the court. Very little movement and few passes kept the offense bland as much of the play was one-on-one basketball.
- Inconsistent play continued to hurt the Nittany Lions. After one of its best scoring performances of the season against the Badgers, Penn State couldn’t buy a bucket on the road. Going forward something will need to give for the blue and white to consistently have an offensive output.
The Nittany Lions will be back on the hardwood against Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 27, at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions participated in a max-out lifting session to mark the end of winter workouts.
Gaines was committed to the Nittany Lions for nearly a year.
Sophomore forward Tessa Janecke also earned CHA Player of the Year and Forward of the Year distinctions.