Game Grades: Penn State vs. Ohio State
The Nittany Lions almost upset the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday night, losing 83-79. Penn State kept it close for most of the game, but could not start a run to take the lead in the final minutes.
The team moved to a 5-7 record for the seasonm but more concerning is the 2-6 record the Nittany Lions have in Big Ten conference play. Overall, Penn State had some bright spots and kept up with Ohio State, at one point leading by eight. This is impressive considering the Buckeyes were seven point favorites heading into the game.
Let’s give out some grades from the game.
The Nittany Lions were outshot in field goal percentage by the Buckeyes, 51.9% to 44.1%, but made up for it by hitting more three-point shots on less attempts than their opponent. Penn State also was more careful with the ball, turning the ball over 11 times compared to Ohio State’s 17 turnovers.
Penn State capitalized on those mistakes, scoring 23 points off the turnovers. The game was tied with one minute to play but missed shots and E.J. Liddell's four free throws sealed the game for the Buckeyes.
The Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio was not nearly as intense without fans for Penn State during this road game. In fact, many players had great performances.
Sophomore Seth Lundy led the team with 26 points and has been a reliable scorer for the Nittany Lions this season, scoring 10 or more points in 8/12 games so far. Junior Izaiah Brockinton had 18 points, and senior John Harrar scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds.
For Harrar, six of his ten rebounds were offensive, helping his team to get more second chance opportunities.
Penn State gets a B for offense because they kept pace with Ohio State’s offense. But when it came down to free throws, the Nittany Lions shot 18-24, which was the difference in the game.
The Nittany Lions do get credit for scoring 79 points, when the Buckeyes’ defense usually allows only 67.3 per game. However, the team was unable to score a basket in the final two minutes when it mattered most.
The defense had a solid showing, but it is hard to beat a team when it shoots over 50% from the field. This was a game about momentum and runs. When Ohio State was hot there was nothing for the Penn State defense to do but watch.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a nine-point lead only four minutes in, forcing the Nittany Lions to play catch up for the majority of the game. However, when Penn State finally regained the lead, it could not make the stops needed to finish the game.
Ohio State averages 76.6 points per game, but outscored that number Wednesday with 83 points. However, Penn State also outscored its average of 76.8 points per game with 79.
Penn State got out rebounded, but mainly because it missed more shots than its opponent. The two teams had the same number of steals and only a difference of one in fouls committed for each team.
The Nittany Lions did not record a block all game, which should be an outlier with the team averaging 2.8 blocks this season. Overall, the defense played just a level below its counterpart. But when the Buckeyes made their final scoring run, the defense could not hold its ground.
Penn State was on a two game win streak and pushed a No. 13 ranked Ohio State team to the final minutes. Interim coach Jim Ferry was able to get the most out of his starters, with four of the five scoring in double figures.
However, no starter shot over 50% and Penn State needs to find ways to score more efficiently in future games. This would give the Nittany Lions a chance to compete with just about any team in a competitive Big Ten conference.
Coach Ferry also needs to get the bench more involved. Junior Myles Dread was the only player who scored off of the bench.
Defensively, Penn State forced Ohio State into some sloppy turnovers, but gave up too many quality shot attempts.
Hopefully, the solid play from the Nittany Lions can be a positive sign as the team gets ready for their next game versus No. 10 Wisconsin on Saturday, Jan. 30th.
Matt Noah is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.