Game Grades: Ohio State
In one of the craziest endings to a game in this college basketball season, Tony Carr and the rest of the Penn State Nittany Lions dealt No.13 Ohio State their first conference defeat. Penn State led for most of the game, before a Keita Bates-Diop off-balance three pointer tied things up with five seconds to go. Nonetheless, Carr banked home the winner from just inside half-court as time expired.
In one of the program’s most complete performances under Pat Chambers, the Lions shocked not only the Value City Arena crowd, but the college basketball world as well. Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to turn around for Chambers and company.
Penn State played with a combination of composure and aggression that had been lacking in its last few outings. Tony Carr orchestrated a nearly-perfect attack, knowing when to push the tempo and when to slow things down. The Lions shot a season-high 58 percent from the field and 73 percent from deep (11/14).
Throughout the season, Penn State had shown flashes of offensive brilliance, yet would then hit prolonged cold spells. That did not happen against the Buckeyes. When points were needed, players stepped up and hit shots. A major reason for that was some key buckets from unsuspecting characters. Davis Zemgulis scored five points and Nazeer Bostick hit a crucial three. In his first game played this semester, Josh Reaves scored ten points in 31 minutes.
Reaves was one of four Nittany Lions to score in double-figures: Tony Carr led with 28 points (10/14 from the field), Lamar Stevens chipped in 15, and Shep Garner added 14 points (4-5 on field goals). Overall, as impressive of an offensive showing as we’ve seen under Pat Chambers.
For a large part of the game, Penn State played top-notch defense. Even though Ohio State was hitting some shots, the Lions limited their opponent’s looks and contested everything. Defense led to offense, which allowed for some easy transition buckets. Penn State also forced 11 turnovers. The most notable aspect of Penn State’s defensive effort was their execution of a matchup two-three zone. A lot of this is due to coaching, but Penn State played the matchup two-three as well as they possibly could have against the Buckeyes. Of course, that is a coaching decision but the players did their part and made things tough for the Buckeyes.
Defensively, things started to crumble at the end of the game. Ohio State clawed back by hitting some open threes and attacking the lane. Yet, Penn State’s defense was a major reason why they won. The Lions held Ohio State to seven made threes en route to the victory, an impressive feat against one of the country’s best scoring teams.
This game may have cooled off Pat Chambers’ seat by a few degrees, and he absolutely deserves that. Chambers started the struggling Deivis Zemgulis, a confidence-booster which gave the junior forward just the spark he needed to hit some key shots down the stretch. Chambers also masterfully managed the minutes of Josh Reaves, who is still working his way back into the rotation.
The most impressive coaching decision was the frequent usage of a matchup two-three zone. The defense puzzled Ohio State and got them out of their comfort zone. If it weren’t for Chambers’ defensive adjustments, Penn State very well may not have won.
Chambers does get a knock on his grade for blowing yet another late lead. This time, however, his star guard came to the rescue.
Jonathan Gross is a junior double-majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.