Penn State (7-2) fought one of the best teams in the country on their home court without their best player for much of the game. Lamar Stevens fouled out early in the second half after sitting out much of the first half with foul trouble. The score got out of hand late but there were some good things that happened for the Lions, notably the contribution from supporting players.
Within three minutes Penn State had already brought in three players off the bench. John Harrar provided help defending Kaleb Wesson after Mike Watkins got an early foul. Izaiah Brockington and Curtis Jones entered to give the team a boost. It was clear that Pat Chambers wanted to deploy his depth against the Buckeyes, who led 9-5 at the first break.
Seth Lundy provided a brief rest for Lamar Stevens at the midway point in the first half, but Stevens came in as the Lions were trailing 16-9. Stevens quickly got his second foul, forcing Lundy back in the game.
The Buckeyes went on a 9-0 run over a 5 minute stretch so Chambers brought Stevens back in the game, sensing it was necessary. Stevens hit a 3-point shot on the next possession to cut the lead to 20-12.
Lundy hit a deep shot when the lead got to 11, providing not just a defensive boost but a much-needed score when the game was tilting toward the Buckeyes. A hook and hold was called on John Harrar while he was blocking out Kaleb Wesson. It turned into a 4-point swing and the largest lead of the first half, 30-17.
The lead got to 15 before a pair of Myles Dread free throws cut into it. Seth Lundy hit a 3-point shot on the next trip down the court. Izaiah Brockington followed with one of his own and then Jamari Wheeler hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead under 10 with 2 minutes to play in the half.
Izaiah Brockington had a steal and dunk to get the lead down to 7. Brockington had 10 pts in the first half.
Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens sat on the bench with 2 fouls each for the final minutes of the half with just 2 rebounds and 11 points between them. It was a team effort to keep Penn State within striking range at the half, trailing by 11.
Watkins got a pair of offensive rebounds for put-backs early in the second half, and a block, which got him going and helped cut the lead to 54-45. Lamar Stevens picked up his third foul with 13:58 to play and Mike Watkins picked up his third with 13:49 on the clock. Less than a minute later Stevens got a cheap foul and then was given a technical foul for bouncing the ball too hard.
It was a tough technical foul, but the refs felt that they had to call it. The call on the fourth foul was much softer, which is why the team and Stevens reacted the way that they did.
The lead went to 63-50 after 3 made free throws off the play. Curtis Jones hit a 3-point shot to cut the lead back to 10 and John Harrar dunked on a fast break and just like that it was 63-55 and Ohio State called timeout. It was a huge response to the tough foul calls and loss of their best player.
Ohio State got the lead to 14 with 11 minutes left and it appeared that they would start to creep away. Instead Seth Lundy hit a 3 to match it. It was a big shot at the time for the freshman, who was 3 of 4 from the floor at the time.
A couple of minutes later the Buckeyes went on the run that had felt imminent once Stevens left the game. It was 77-58 with 9 minutes to play.
Ohio State continued to pull away on the strength of ridiculous outside shooting.
Four Factor Analysis
When your opponent shoots 57.4% from the field, things get ugly quick. Hopefully the Lions can shake this one off.
- Watching Penn State play defense is extremely entertaining. Players like Brockington, Wheeler and Watkins seem to live for playing defense but there are so many others that have unique skills. Unfortunately Ohio State also has one of the best defenses in the Big Ten and the Lions’ offense struggled at times.
- While it was a shame that Lamar Stevens got 2 fouls in the first 10 minutes, which has become an issue this year for him, it was nice that the team was able to sub in Seth Lundy. Chambers used Lundy on defense and Stevens on offense to get through the first half without Stevens picking up a 3rd foul. The team could not afford to play without Stevens, but the Buckeyes would have targeted him when they had the ball.
- The good side of having to play without the services of Lamar Stevens due to foul trouble is that the team has shown incredible composure and depth without him. Rather than withering under the pressure, Penn State has played very well several times without Stevens.
- The Buckeyes were 12 of 18 from 3-point range in the second half. Most of that came once the game was blown wide open and Penn State lost its willingness to hustle to the shooter. It was tough to watch the team with their heads hanging a little, knowing that they were going to lose big on the road. Hopefully the team will remember that this was just one loss. A tough one, but just one.
The mountain is steep in the near future and the climb will be difficult, as the Lions return home to host Maryland on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.