When Penn State upset a struggling Ohio State in Columbus last month, most deduced that it was just a blip on the radar or another example of the B1G's loony qualities this season. Nope. Turns out the Nittany Lions (more specifically, one Mr. D.J. Newbill) own the Buckeyes, proving it with a 65-63 win in the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday night. Tim Frazier shook off some early Senior Night nerves to finish with 16 points, but just like the first game, it was Newbill who provided the star power needed to overcome one of the best defensive units in the country. His 23 points on just nine shots led the way for a hungry Nittany Lion team that still has some fight left in them.
Not to say they didn't almost blow it, though. A gaffe on a crucial inbounds play cut the lead to one and Ross Travis missed both of his free throws on the ensuing possession, giving the Buckeyes a chance to win the game. Lenzelle Smith Jr embarrassingly missed a long jumper and after Frazier was fouled and doubled the lead at the line, Smith had another good look from three but couldn't connect, handing the Buckeyes another embarrassing loss. It was a slight change of pace from the reverse fixture, when Penn State had to come from behind to snatch a victory. Pat Chambers' team was once again the more resolute bunch, only this time in their defense of the lead they had maintained for much of the second half.
Four Factors Analysis
OSU's defense has been outstanding all season long (KenPom's 3rd-ranked defense) but Penn State's guards were able to get into the lane and create opportunities, like this one:
Rebounding continues to be a massive determinate for PSU's success, and they won the battle on the glass again tonight. Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor were huge in that regard, pulling down eight boards apiece. Jordan Dickerson actually started the game and while he didn't provide much offensively (besides that crowd-energizing dunk), he did swat a couple of shots and changed a few more, just as you want your 7-footers to do. The frontcourt did commit quite a few fouls but they were bailed out by the Buckeyes' poor free throw shooting, especially down the stretch.
And no matter how much you want to question just how good Aaron Craft is, there's no debating how important he is to Ohio State's offense. Craft had to sit with four fouls early in the second half and the Buckeyes' offense was especially stagnant without him out there. He finished with 10 points and four assists, but Nittany Nation savored his five turnovers.
Player of the Game
I'd like to give this to Frazier on Senior Night but Newbill was sensational yet again. Usually opposing guards struggle to create against Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, but then again most guards aren't as physically imposing as D.J. is. He destroys smaller defenders and has the quickness and agility to go around shot-blockers and those skills haven't been more evident than they were tonight. It was Frazier's night but I think it's fair to say this is now Newbill's team.
- Geno Flipped - John Johnson didn't get on the court for reasons unknown as of yet, though one reason might be the freshman who replaced in the rotation. Geno Thorpe played with no fear whatsoever en route to a career-high nine points on 3-4 shooting. He didn't hesitate in getting to the rim against the conference's top defenders and looked like one heck of a stopper himself.
- Penn State is undefeated when walk-on Zach Cooper is in the starting lineup - hey man I just report the facts
- Postseason dreamin'? - Maybe hold off on those hopes for now, considering Penn State will likely have to win each of their last three regular season games to finish with a winning record. The bottom of the B1G is awfully crowded - four teams are 5-10 in the conference and with Nebraska slipping up there just might not be room for PSU in the NIT, even if they do manage to win out. So just enjoy this win!
This was the Senior Night game but Sunday will be Frazier's last game in the BJC, where the Nittany Lions will meet Wisconsin for the first and only time this season. More on the Badgers in the coming days.
- Oh, Hello: PA RB Andre Robinson Commits to Penn State
- Success With Hyperlinking Thinks It's a Great Day To Be Anyone But Bret Bielema
- Ohio State at Penn State Preview: Tim Frazier's Senior Night
- Catching up with Penn State Target 2015 OL Austin Clark
- Catching up with Penn State Target 2015 CB Daivon Ellison