Game Grades: Ohio State

Story posted February 16, 2018 in CommRadio, Sports by Zach Kaplan

It is conceivable to think that no one besides the Nittany Lions themselves foresaw a blowout, 79-56 win over No. 8 Ohio State on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. In capturing a season sweep over the Buckeyes, Penn State was led by Tony Carr’s 30 points as Carr went 9 of 15 from the field, hitting 4 of 8 from behind the arc.

Penn State got a win that might be enough to propel some of the “bubble” conversations that fans have desired for seven years. By making 45 percent of their 3-point attempts, and holding the Buckeyes to a paltry 13 percent, the Nittany Lions used a first-half offensive explosion to blow by Ohio State.

Here are the game grades from an impressive win over a top 10 team:

Offense: A-
While the shot selection was questionable at times, people tend to forget about where the shot was taken from if it goes in.

That was the story for the Nittany Lions as they shot 48 percent as a team. Lamar Stevens (7 pts) was the only starter not in double figures, as Shep Garner (12 pts) went 4 of 7 from behind the arc, Josh Reaves added 12, and Mike Watkins had 11.

The only thing keeping Penn State from an “A” in this category was their tendency to wait until the end of the shot clock and force up contested shots in the early second half. To get an “A” on offense, you have to play perfectly, and the Nittany Lions were about as good as it gets offensively in this game.

Defense: A
This was a very impressive defensive showing for Penn State. Anytime you can keep Keita Bates-Diop, a Naismith watch list player to only 10 points (six for most of the game), you have to be happy with the performance.

C.J. Jackson was essentially the only Buckeye to do any damage, as the high scorer for Ohio State, but even he was only held to 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting.

Jackson and Bates-Diop were the only Ohio State starters in double figures as Andre and Kaleb Wesson combined for only 10 points and Jae’Sean Tate, the buzzer-beating hero from last year’s contest, was held to six points in 23 minutes.

And of all people, how about Julian Moore, yes Julian Moore, coming up with THREE blocks in this game, including two on a single possession? It may have been his finest moment as a Nittany Lion.
Coaching: A-
For all the leads Penn State has blown this year, and over Pat Chambers’ tenure as a whole, they did a great job refusing to let Ohio State back in the game. The Buckeyes never got any closer than 16 points in the second half.

It shows maturity on part of the coaching staff that they called timeouts when needed. Give credit to a coaching staff that is typically ridiculed on Twitter and social media for having their players ready to go for what was the biggest game of their season so far.

It seems as though this coaching staff may have turned a corner of sorts. Since Josh Reaves returned to the lineup, they are now 4-1 and have looked way better offensively than the first half of this season. Chambers has been smarter with his substitutions and it has shown. 

Now the big test comes Sunday. Chambers will have his hands full trying to stop Isaac Haas and Purdue, especially with the game in West Lafayette. It remains to be seen if Chambers is up to the task, but recent success has certainly put a halt to those who wanted to #FirePatChambers earlier this season.


Zach Kaplan is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Spanish and history. To reach him, email him at