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Penn State 79, No. 8 Ohio State 56: Be Afraid Big Ten, Be Very Afraid

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It’s real. The Penn State basketball team is making an NCAA tournament run.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State (19-9, 9-6) continues to make an amazing run in the second half of the conference season. After starting Big Ten play with a 3-5 record, the team has gone 6-1 to get itself in position to play for a bid to the NCAA tournament. The win completes the season sweep of the Buckeyes; Penn State is the only team to defeat Ohio State in conference play.

In front of a very nice crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center the Lions were ready to play from the opening tip. Mike Watkins had a dunk and Lamar Stevens hit a jump shot and was fouled to help build an early 9-4 Penn State lead. Tony Carr hit a three-pointer to make it a ten-point run early for the Lions. Josh Reaves added a dunk off a steal to bring the score to 14-4 before Ohio State answered, ending a scoreless streak of almost five minutes.

With just under eleven minutes to play before the half, the score was 19-10 in favor of the home-team Lions and the crowd inside the stadium was relentless with their support. The lead got to 24-10 with another Penn State run of seven points. Keita Bates-Diop, a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year, was held scoreless for the first twelve minutes of the game.

Bates-Diop scored four quick points during an Ohio State run that cut the lead to 25-16. Tony Carr hit a three pointer a couple of minutes later to give the Lions a 32-16 edge as Penn State put on another offensive push.

Julian Moore blocked two shots on one possession, a trip that ended with a shot-clock violation for the Buckeyes. The next time down the court Mike Watkins hit two free throws to build the lead to 36-18 with 2:30 to play in the half. The lead got to twenty and the fans inside the stadium were as loud as a Penn State basketball crowd has been for years.

Tony Carr hit a shot with less than three seconds to play in the half and was fouled.

Josh Reaves threw the ball the length of the court, in a play that was initially very surprising, but it worked out for Penn State. It was a great example of the aggressive nature of Pat Chambers’ team on the night. The play extended the lead to 45-21 at the midway point.

Shep Garner hit a deep three-pointer to open the second half. Tony Carr hit another shot while being fouled and completed the play for another three points and a 51-21 Penn State lead. Ohio State went on an 11-0 run a couple of minutes later to cut into the lead but the Lions answered back and it was 55-35 with 12:31 to play.

Bates-Diop hit a three-pointer with 10:32 to play and the lead was cut to 16. Josh Reaves went to the bench with what looked like a cramp in his leg as Pat Chambers called a timeout to try to halt the Ohio State run. Reaves returned a couple of minutes later, making a great pass to Mike Watkins to build the lead back to 19.

The Bryce Jordan Center was loud and supportive as the team continued to hold the lead with time winding down, the clock under six minutes with the Lions leading by 18.

Ohio State continued to play hard but was unable to make a serious run at the end of the game. Tony Carr hit a shot while falling to his backside for his 30th point of the night, and got fouled in the process, with 1:27 left and the Lions leading 75-54. The Lions held on for the comfortable win.

Here was the scene at the end of the game, as the fans stormed the court.

Four Factors Analysis

The Lions played a very efficient game. Penn State out-rebounded Ohio State 38-30 and had seven blocks. With 14 assists, it was great to see the ball movement and complete team effort.

Player of the Game

Tony Carr continues to elevate his game. His ability to score was established early in his career. Now the challenge is to continue to find ways to make the players around him better. While his statistics are gaudy, the impact he makes on the court is even greater.

Random Thoughts

  • It was so nice to see the support of the students and area fans at the game. The noise was constant and helped the team early in the game. We can only hope that if the team can continue to succeed on the floor, the stadium will continue to be full of life and provide a true home-court advantage.
  • The overall team defense gave Ohio State very few second chances or open looks. Rather than one or two players making the plays it was most often a case of the entire team carrying out their responsibilities.
  • Julian Moore continues to improve. He has obvious flaws but he has found a way to contribute productive minutes while giving Mike Watkins a chance to rest or avoid foul trouble. Pat Chambers elected to go with both Moore and Watkins in the lineup for nearly five minutes in a couple different spurts. It gives the team a nice one-two punch on the low post.

Up Next

The Lions will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on Purdue on Sunday. The game will be played at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.