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Penn State 82, Ohio State 79: Yes, That Just Happened.

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Tony Carr’s buzzer-beater ruined an impressive comeback by the Buckeyes and gave the Nittany Lions a stunning upset on the road.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face the facts: You most likely tuned into this game to hate-watch and send out angry tweets/text messages to your friends as an underachieving Penn State team got slaughtered by a 13th-ranked overachieving Ohio State team, further continuing Penn State’s slide towards the Big Ten basement and with that, Pat Chambers’ probability of still being the head coach come mid-March.

What you got instead, was a PSU team play with a level of confidence not seen in the past couple of weeks, coming out of the gate by nailing their first five attempts from 3-point range (two each from Shep Garner and Tony Carr, one from Lamar Stevens). By the time OSU knew what hit them, PSU was up by ten points in the earlygoing. The Buckeyes slowly but surely, worked their way back in, thanks to some lights-out shooting and Keita Bates-Diop working the glass (he would finish with 10 rebounds). By halftime, the Lions’ lead was down to one point at 38-37, and it seemed inevitable that the Buckeyes would take over in the second half.

This team had other plans though, as they continued to keep the Buckeyes at bay with responses to every score the Buckeyes would produce. In a stunning sequence with eight minutes to play in the game, PSU increased its lead to 13 points at 67-54, thanks to Deivis Zemgulis stepping up by hitting back-to-back shots (a three-pointer and a layup), followed by Shep nailing another three. OSU was once again able to rally though, and Bates-Diop caught fire in the final couple of minutes when he absolutely had to. In the game’s final seconds, with OSU trailing 79-76, Bates-Diop launched one from NBA range that somehow found its way into the bottom of the net, tying the game at 79 with five seconds left. At this point, it seemed like this was shaping up to be the same old PSU hoops finish we’ve all gotten used to, this time in an even more painful fashion.

That was when Mr. Carr took matters into his own hands, taking the in-bounds pass and dribbling just beyond mid-court when he launched a 35-footer that banked in at the buzzer. An Ohio State crowd that was already looking forward to seizing the momentum for an overtime win was stunned silent, while the PSU bench emptied onto the Value City Arena floor. Somehow, someway, Pat Chambers had overseen two of PSU’s paltry three victories over OSU in the past 15 years and PSU’s first win over a Top 15 opponent on the road since Super Bowl Sunday 2009 at Michigan State.

PPP and Four Factors Formula

Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Team Total Possessions PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 62 1.32 69.8% 30.0% 16.1% 41.7%
Ohio State - 1.27 63.0% 31.8% 17.7% 32.0%

In a game that was as tight and high-scoring as this one was, it makes sense that PPP and effective FG% were solid for both teams. The only significant difference was in the free throw rate category, where PSU had 20 trips to OSU’s 16. The Buckeyes however, were a perfect 16-for-16, while PSU was 15-for-20. Had PSU either converted a few more of their free throws, or OSU missed a few themselves, it wouldn’t have come down to needing late-game Carr heroics for PSU to win this one.

Player of the Game - Tony Carr (28 points, 10-for-14 FG’s, 4-for-5 3-point FG, 5 assists)

This was one pretty obvious. Carr was part of the early three-point barrage and throughout the game hit clutch shot after clutch shot to keep Ohio State in check. For that, he’s your player of the game.

Random Observations

  • He may not have totally lit up the stat sheet, but there is no debating that Josh Reaves brought a level of swagger this team hadn’t shown in quite some time. Whether it was taking the ball to the hoop for a one-handed slam, playing sound defense, or just being his usual scrappy self, it was a very welcome sight to see Josh back on the floor.
  • For once, this team actually saved its best three-point shooting night for a game they otherwise had no business winning...and it still almost wasn’t enough.
  • Shortly after the game, a good friend (and lifelong PSU basketbro) texted me: “This is Chambers’ Jerry Dunn Sweet 16 moment. We will have to watch him run the program into the ground for another year.” Time will tell, as this team will face the challenge of having to play another game in less than 48 hours against a scrappy Rutgers team. Oh, and that game is followed by a road trip to Michigan State next Wednesday. There is a good chance they could drop both of these games and make this result moot, or they could at the very least, knock off Rutgers despite the tired legs and keep up the momentum for a bit longer.

Up Next

Penn State (14-8, 4-5) will head back to the friendly, cavernous confines of the BJC to take on Rutgers (12-10, 2-7) this Saturday. Tip-off is at 4:00 PM ET on BTN.