Stop me if you’ve read this before: Penn State held a commanding lead late into the second half against Ohio State, but ultimately blew it at the end. In homage to their football counterparts, the basketball team let a huge upset opportunity slip from their fingers.
It certainly didn’t look like it was going to be much of a game during the first several minutes, as Penn State looked like a team that never got off the bus. The Buckeyes were red-hot shooting the rock and were active on the offensive glass, allowing themselves to race out to a 14-2 advantage. PSU would start to wake up a bit, with Seth Lundy picking up the scoring slack as his shots starting finding the bottom of the net, en route to scoring 17 points in the half.
The Buckeyes would keep up their hot shooting throughout the half, nailing 53 percent of their shots, including three treys from Justin Ahrens, and eight different players getting on the board for OSU. PSU would keep within striking distance however, with a little help from Seth’s friends, as John Harrar crashed the boards, Izaiah Brockington pitched in with eight points, and Myles Dread in his first game action in a while, knocked down a trey.
It was Jamari Wheeler though, who gave PSU some real momentum heading into the halftime locker room, garnering back-to-back steals and layups in the final minutes, including a buzzer-beater. As a result, PSU saw themselves trailing by only four at the half, after such a disastrous start.
PSU would pick up where they left off to start the second half, tying the game up and ultimately taking the lead, thanks to more hot shooting from Lundy, as well as Brockington Myreon Jones, and Harrar pitching in. The game began to resemble a back-and-forth scoring affair between both teams, similar to last year’s clash with Iowa at the Palestra. PSU would begin to boost their lead, being up by as much as eight points with eight minutes to play in the game.
A nearly six-minute field goal drought allowed the Buckeyes to claw back however, ultimately giving them back the lead by a point with three minutes to play. Dread would answer with a trey to put PSU back up two before OSU would answer back, followed by Seth having something to say himself with yet another trey. OSU’s Justice Sueing would draw a foul on the next possession and nail both his free throws to tie the game back up. This was followed by Seth turning the ball over on the ensuing possession for PSU. OSU’s E.J. Lindell would then draw a foul on the other end, and nail both of his free throws to put the Buckeyes back up by two.
The Lions had one last opportunity however, down two with 15 seconds to play. Myreon drove to the baseline and let loose a floater that appeared like it was on trajectory to go in and force overtime. Alas, the floater rimmed out and Harrar’s subsequent putback attempt didn’t go anywhere, as OSU celebrated their comeback win.
Both teams shot the ball fairly well, and PSU was better in the turnover department and actually got more trips to the line than the home team (24 to 21). In a tight game like this one though, it’s all about the margins and OSU was more efficient at the line, going damn near perfect with 20-for-21 (95 percent), while PSU went 18-for-24 (75 percent). It also didn’t help that OSU won the rebounding battle 36-28.
Player of the Game
Without question, it’s Seth Lundy. After being rather pedestrian through most of Big Ten play, the sophomore roared back to his old form, scoring a game-high 26 points, including 4-for-8 from downtown. For that, he’s your BSD MVP.
- Bye Bye Bracketology Fun - I was pleasantly shocked to see ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Penn State listed in his “First Four Out” in his latest Bracketology that was released earlier this afternoon. Had PSU held on, I would have been anxiously checking for his next tweet to drop with an update on where PSU stood. It’s a sign of just how deeply respect the Big Ten is this year if a PSU team that’s second-to-last in the conference standings is even on the bubble.
- Welcome Back, Myles! - Now, if only we can get someone to do a Miyagi massage trick on Sam Sessom’s ankle...
- Penn State Has a Post Presence? - John Harrar stepped up big time tonight, garnering a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds (six of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass). It sure would be nice if Mike Watkins had found an extra year of eligibility to give PSU an additional big man presence, but one is still better than none. With PSU’s deep backcourt, one productive post guy is enough to give this team a fighting chance in most games.
Penn State (5-7, 2-6) returns to action at the BJC this coming Saturday (January 30th) when they host Wisconsin. Tipoff is at 3:00 PM ET on BTN.