Nittany Lions face a tough task against No. 23 Buckeyes
After a convincing 56-43 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Penn State men’s basketball (15-9, 3-8 B1G) team looks to use that momentum when they travel to Columbus to take on the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-6, 7-4 B1G) on Wednesday.
The Buckeyes have won four of their last five games topping two ranked teams in No. 23 Indiana by 12 and No. 16 Maryland by 24. Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell has been on fire as of recently including a triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) in Sunday night’s victory over Rutgers.
With sophomore forward Marc Loving (11.9 ppg) and senior forward Sam Thompson (9.8 ppg) at his sides, Russell makes the Buckeyes a major threat on the offensive end. Add Amir Williams underneath and Ohio St. has the size and experience to make a run late in the season.
Ohio State ranks third in the country in field goal percentage shooting over 50 percent from the field. They are shooting just under 40 percent from the three-point line with Loving leading the team at 53 percent.
Meanwhile, Penn State has won three of their last five, jumping out to an early lead against Nebraska on Saturday and never looking back as the supporting cast came to play. Geno Thorpe led the team with 14 points and three steals on 50 percent shooting while a much needed Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner hit 50 percent of their shots from deep (each 3-6).
The Nittany Lions have proven that they are a hard team to beat in the Big Ten. They almost took down Illinois in Champaign and challenged No. 17 ranked Maryland for 40 minutes in College Park.
Something coach Patrick Chambers has stressed is that they cannot just rely on D.J. Newbill to win games. The senior guard (20.9 ppg) carried the team against the Terrapins leading to a loss.
However, a 13-point victory over Nebraska further exemplified that when the surrounding cast plays well, the Nittany Lions win.
A major part of the supporting cast is the big men. Donovan Jack (4.5 ppg), Ross Travis (6.2 rpg) and Jordan Dickerson (35 blk) need to take on bigger roles for Penn State to contend in this game.
In the past two games, all three big men have combined for just 12 points. That won’t be enough against the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions struggle with sharing the ball, ranking 324th in the nation in assists. Newbill must pass the ball more often allowing everyone to get involved.
Wednesday’s tipoff in Columbus, Ohio is set for 7:00 p.m. and can be seen live on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions will then return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday when they take on the Maryland Terrapins.
Mike Carnuccio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.