The Buckeyes made short work of the Penn State Nittany Lions by a tally of 78-54 in their first and only meeting for the regular season. It was the 17th straight win for Ohio State over Penn State, and the 37th straight home victory, the second longest streak in the country. Jared Sullinger led all scorers with 20 points, and picked up a double-double with 13 rebounds. He was joined by William Buford and Aaron Craft with double digit scoring for the Buckeyes with 15 and 11 respectively. Tim Frazier led Penn State with 16 points and 4 assists.
Neither team seemed particularly on-the-ball to start the game. The Buckeyes miscued on several possessions, including a palming call on Lenzelle, and a poor entry pass from Buford. On the other end, Penn State committed an ugly turnover at the top of the key, and couldn’t seem to get the ball to drop through the hoop. The Nits even picked up a cheap early shooting foul, but couldn’t convert the free-throws into points.
After the first timeout, both teams began to pick up the energy. Penn State had already been attacking the basket and fighting for offensive rebounds, but finally started to pass the ball effectively to find the open looks against OSU’s defense. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, began to attack more aggressively. In particular, Aaron Craft began to feed his teammates in better positions to score quickly.
With things starting to click finally the Buckeyes settled into their halfcourt offense. OSU had the significant advantage in talent in the paint, and did not have to worry about dealing with a taller presence in the paint. They took advantage of that on both ends of the court, but it was most obvious on offense with the OSU guards, especially Aaron Craft, attacking the paint and dropping in shots close to the rim.
Thad Matta went deep into his bench early in the first half. He has been doing that a lot more recently, suggesting that he’s gaining trust in some of the younger players. Guys like Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson appeared in the game early and continued to demonstrate competence on the court. They have not polished their games completely, and it was apparent that there’s still a lot of work left for them to do, but they are improving in leaps and bounds.
Penn State needed nearly 15 minutes to finally break double digits. Two quick shots from long range, including a three pointer, allowed the Nittany Lions to make the score more respectable. Considering that Indiana was only about to score 14 points in the first half, Penn State was in good company. Unfortunately it was a close thing for the Nits as they struggled shooting the basketball through the whole half, hitting only 21.9% of their shots. They even struggled in distributing the points with only 2 players – Jermaine Marshall and Tim Frazier – scoring until very nearly the end of the first stanza.
The Bucks did not waste any time getting their offense going again after the half. Buford and DeShaun Thomas both made great plays to increase the already out-of-control lead. Ohio State continued to go to where they were getting the most success, getting the ball inside and letting Penn State dictate who is going to get the best shot opportunity.
Penn State wasn’t just going to lie down quietly. They began to attack the basket more strongly and it paid off for them. Despite only scoring 18 points in the first half, the Nits were able to put down 11 in the first four minutes of the second half. Their effort was able to begin to close the lead again.
After a TV timeout, the Buckeyes began to attack with more energy. Sam Thompson picked up a nice in-bounds ally-oop from Aaron Craft that was exactly the mirror of the same play OSU ran at Indiana. The Bucks continued to feed Sullinger down low and gave him plenty of easy scoring opportunities to put this one away with authority. Sullinger eventually finished his night with ten minutes left, having picked up a double double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Matta began to run deeper into his bench up by more than 20 points with eight minutes left to play. Amir Williams, JD Weatherspoon, and LaQuinton Ross all saw plenty of playing time late in this game against a Penn State team that was desperately trying to surge and close the gap. The experience is great for the young guys as they have to face a team’s starters playing depseration basketball, which is often a tough to defend against.
The Buckeyes ended the game shooting 50% (25-50) from the floor and 36.4% (4-11) from beyond the arc. Penn State simply could not keep up with that shooting, hitting a mere 31.3% (20-64) and 31.3% (5-16) respectively. The Nittany Lions outrebounded the Bucks on the offensive glass 13-8, but weren’t able to win the overall rebounding battle, falling to OSU 43-35. The Buckeyes also controlled the assist numbers 16-7, despite PSU’s Tim Frazier being the conference leader in assists.
The Buckeyes will next face the Michigan Wolverines in Value City Arena on Sunday, January 29th at 1:00 PM EST. You’ll be able to see that game on CBS.