Accomplishments. They’re a nice thing. Today, the Nittany Lions can add another accomplishment to their repertoire, by beating Ohio State three times in a single season. This would be the first time the feat would be accomplished in Penn State’s 26 seasons in the Big Ten.*
At the very beginning, it looked like this would be the game we all expected: A tired Nittany Lions team starts lethargic, letting Ohio State slowly but surely build a lead that would inevitably become too large to overcome. At 4-0 and looking loose, the Buckeyes were the team that looked like a bad matchup for Penn State. Then, as it went, the Nittany Lions woke up. Penn State went on a 12-0 run to grab the eight-point lead, Ohio State would answer with their own 11-0 run to take the three-point lead, and back and forth the game went, with both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions going on their own runs to grab and trade leads. Penn State would take the lead to halftime, however.
The second half battle was no different than the first. Penn State went on a run to be up as much as eight, 45-37. The Buckeyes answered with their own runs to tie the game at 49. the fatigue started to set in with the Nittany Lions, though, and a slew of sloppy plays gave the lead to the Buckeyes with less than five minutes left in the game. Not to mention, Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr, and John Harrar were all in foul trouble, which forced them to play more timid than they otherwise would have.
Reminiscent of the game in Columbus, this one came down to the last possession. With 3.1 seconds left, Ohio State had one last shot. The Buckeyes, however, don’t have Tony Carr. There would be no buzzer beater. That was the end of that.
Four Factors Analysis
Penn State finally came back down to earth shooting wise, but it didn’t matter, as the Nittany Lions still made life miserable on defense for Ohio State. Free throws were instrumental in this game, and the Lions took advantage of their opportunities. Penn State once again had fewer than ten turnovers, which is good to see.
Players of the Game
Tony Carr was not ready to go home tonight. He had another 25 points in this game. Along with him, Lamar Stevens had his best game in a while, pitching in with 15 points of his own. Honorable mention goes to Shep Garner and his 13 point, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 assist game. Very Reaves-like.
21 - Like Adele, the Nittany Lions are setting fire to the rain. They’ll make it to the semi-finals in the Big Ten Tournament for just the fourth time in school history.
Free throws - Penn State shot 80 percent from the charity stripe. It was instrumental in keeping the Buckeyes at arm’s length late in the game. For maybe the first time this season, the free throw shooting may have been the reason they won, and not the other way around.
Who would have thought - Of all the teams Penn State has played since losing Mike Watkins, Ohio State would be the one who would least take advantage of it.
The Nittany Lions will face the winner of Purdue and Rutgers on Saturday, at 4:30 Eastern. CBS will get the broadcast.
*Yes, the Big Ten didn’t have a conference tournament for all 26 of those seasons.