The past couple of senior nights at the Bryce Jordan Center saw Penn State finish off an improbable sweep of Ohio State last season, and rally from a seemingly insurmountable 15-point deficit in the final eight minutes against then-4th ranked Michigan (led by a guy named Trey Burke, who was once verbally committed to Penn State).
Trailing 17-14 halfway through the first half, Penn State ignited a 15-3 run over the next six minutes (off the back of senior Ross Travis, who played like he realized it was his last home game ever) and eventually found themselves with a 29-20 lead with a little over three minutes left in the half and seemingly having discovered that good ol' senior night magic once again.
There would be no such magical ending though, as Penn State swiftly blew its advantage, allowing the Buckeyes to roll off nine straight points in less than two and a half minutes, before taking a tenuous one-point lead into halftime. PSU pulled similar lead-blowing tricks in the second half, jumping out to a 38-29 advantage early on, before the Buckeyes swiftly clawed back wtihin a couple of short minutes, before D'Angelo Russell, OSU's do-everything freshman, caught fire from three-point land, nailing three in a row from behind the arc (when he wasn't busy scoring by other means, leading the way with 28 points). This sparked an insurmountable run by the Buckeyes, one that would see their lead balloon to as high as 16, demoralizing whatever hope this Penn State team had of re-create the joyful occasions of Senior Nights past.
D.J. Newbill fittingly led the way scoring-wise in his final home game, notching 17 points and five assists, while Ross Travis damn near notched a double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds. Shep Garner also reached double figures with 13 points.
Four Factors Analysis
You may have a hard time believing so looking at the disparity in Points Per Possession (PPP), but the two teams shot around the same (OSU at 42.9%, PSU at 42.3%). Perhaps it's because OSU nailed twice as many three-pointers (6) as Penn State (3) with exactly the same number of attempts (17). The Buckeyes also held an 11-6 offensive rebound advantage and shot 36 free throws to Penn State's 24 (albeit, the Buckeyes struggled from the line, nailing only 23 of their 36 attempts, while PSU hit on 20 of its 24).
Player of the Game - Ross Travis
Look, he hasn't exactly been the player we had hoped he'd become by the time his senior season rolled around, but let's give kudos to Ross for stepping up tonight with his near double-double performance and tenacious all-around effort. Who knows how many additional wins this team could have right now if he could've replicated performances like tonight's on a regular basis...
- Tonight's Edition of 'This is Not a Foul'
- It's The Penn State Basketball GIF That Will Likely Keep on Giving
- Thank You, Seniors - D.J., Ross, Alan Wisniewski and Kevin Montminy. The latter two especially, because while they may hardly see the floor (kudos to Pat Chambers for including them in the starting lineup tonight) in games, they are putting just as much blood, sweat, and tears in practice as their counterparts who see significant game action.
They called a foul on D.J. Newbill FOR THIS https://t.co/VXw4RStyso— Chad Markulics (@Chad_BSD) March 4, 2015
This basket by Ohio State's Sam Thompson against Penn State may be the weirdest of the season. GIF: pic.twitter.com/PonoREGWXD— Sam Cooper (@SamDCooper) March 5, 2015
Penn State closes out the regular season this Sunday when they travel to Minneapolis for a shot at sweeping Minnesota before moving to their opening round Big Ten Tournament game a week from today (likely in a rematch against Nebraska).