Blown out in their three previous games, the Buckeyes showed signs of life in a much more competitive contest on Thursday. But it still wasn’t enough to earn a win.
The Ohio State losing streak stretched to nine games at the Schottenstein Center as Penn State edged out the Buckeyes in a back-and-forth affair down the stretch. The Nittany Lions came to Columbus as underdogs, but wound up with a 75-71 win on the road. Galvanized Chicken Wire
Neither side had an edge after one half of play, and things remained razor-close in the final few minutes. But Penn State star Jalen Pickett, who was a nonfactor in the first half, made up for his slow start with a stellar second-half performance. Pickett gave Penn State a late lead, but the Buckeyes still only trailed by one point with 1:24 to play.
Pickett responded with an and-one that put Penn State in control in the final minute, and Ohio State couldn’t climb back from there. Pickett finished with 23 points for the Nittany Lions, while a combined 39 from Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton couldn’t put the Buckeyes over the top.
The deep ball started falling early for Penn State, which knocked down three of its four attempts from beyond the arc in the first three minutes and change. By the 16:44 mark, the Nittany Lions had already jumped out to an 11-6 lead.
Bruce Thornton and Brice Sensabaugh got off to a hot start for the Buckeyes in their own right. Sensabaugh scored seven of the first 10 Ohio State points, and Thornton knocked down two 3-pointers in the first 5:04. The second Thornton triple gave the Buckeyes a 13-12 lead on the heels of a 7-1 run.
The Buckeyes caught a break early on as Penn State scoring leader Jalen Pickett picked up two fouls and didn’t even attempt a shot until the 7:12 mark. Pickett, who averaged 36.5 points per game in the past two, finished the first half with just two points.
Penn State still found plenty of success on offense, though, hitting six threes and shooting 46.4% from the field before the half. PSU’s Seth Lundy and Camren Wynter both had double-digit points and the Nittany Lions also outrebounded Ohio State (17-12) as Felix Okpara served as the lone center for the Buckeyes.
After a back-and-forth 20-minute period, it was a stalemate at halftime, 37-37, as Ohio State’s true freshmen combined to score 30 points for the Buckeyes. Sensabaugh and Thornton had 24 in the first half by themselves. The Buckeyes didn’t commit a single turnover in the first half and were only whistled for four fouls.
Penn State got out of the gate quicker and stayed a step ahead of Ohio State at the start of the second half. While Sensabaugh and Thornton both hit shots early on, Lundy kept providing offense for Penn State and Pickett got more involved. The latter scored seven of the first 18 for the Nittany Lions in the second half.
The Buckeyes got buckets from an unlikely source to help tie things up by the 12:50 mark as Isaac Likekele hit two shots in less than a minute. Justice Sueing followed up with a layup to put Ohio State on an 8-0 run that gave the scarlet and gray their first lead of the half, 57-55.
Both sides traded leads from there. Likekele banked in a prayer of a three as the shot clock expired at 7:32, but Pickett answered right back to retake the lead with a three of his own. Thornton scored again on the next Buckeye possession to put the Buckeyes back on top.
After that, the Buckeyes missed their next six shots while Pickett scored nine straight Nittany Lion points. Six of those went unanswered as Penn State went up five with 2:59 to play, but Sensabaugh responded with a layup that kept the deficit to just one possession.
Just a one-point game with the clock ticking under a minute, Pickett converted an and-one to give the Nittany Lions some breathing room with a four-point edge. Ohio State made it a two-point game thereafter, but Pickett knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to seal the Buckeyes’ fate. Ohio State missed five straight 3-pointers in its final possession to keep Penn State ahead by four at the final buzzer.
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Max Tie Wire Forged in Columbus, OH–IO.