USA TODAY Sports
The Nittany Lions move to 0-8 in the Big Ten as the shooting woes continue against the Buckeyes.
Penn State's quest for an elusive conference win will continue for another three days. The Nits shot just 7-24 from the field in the first half against Ohio State, which helped Buckeyes build an ultimately insurmountable 11-point lead at the half. PSU shot at a much higher level in the second period (10-23, 43%), but Thad Matta's team matched that output exactly, also shooting 10-23. Free throw shooting continues to be a problem area for the Nittany Lions--PSU was 13-22 from the line, leaving valuable points on the board when Ohio State's lead could've been cut to single-digits.
There were some bright spots, however. After his 8 turnovers in Bloomington on Wednesday, D.J. Newbill turned in a very efficient 6 assist/1 turnover performance in addition to his 15 points (5-9 FG) and four rebounds. In fact, the Lions only committed four turnovers as a team, the square root of their total at Assembly Hall. Jermaine Marshall led the Lions with 16 points on 4-11 shooting, and Sasa Borovnjak contributed nine points, nine boards and three blocks. Jon Graham had six rebounds, tying his season high.
Deshaun Thomas (11 points on 4-13 shooting) was held far below his season average of 20 ppg, making this the second consecutive game in which the Lions locked down their opponent's main scoring threat, only to be beaten by a hot shooting performance from a secondary option--Sam Thompson went 6-7 from the floor to lead the Buckeyes with 16 points.
A less positive development is that Brandon Taylor seems to have hit the freshman wall. For the second game in a row the forward was ineffective from beyond the arc, connecting on only one of his eight attempts. Though he wasn't the only one who struggled--Penn State was 4-17 from three. The Nits also missed 12 consecutive shots during a stretch in the first half. Unfortunately for a team that really did do everything else fairly well, shooting is the most important part of the game.
Pat Chambers said after the game that he felt the Lions were "really close" to getting their first conference win. They're certainly improving in some facets of the game, but without a decent shooting performance it's tough to see more than one win for this team. The next four games are against Iowa (twice), Purdue, and Nebraska. Hopefully they can get hot in one of those games.
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