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Ohio State 76, Penn State 64: Nittany Lions Drop Big Ten Conference Opener

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Penn State fought throughout the night but came up short in their conference opener on Sunday night

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night Penn State kicked off conference play by welcoming the Ohio State Buckeyes to the BJC. Entering the game the Buckeyes were riding high after rallying to defeat top ranked Duke earlier in the week, a victory that saw the Buckeyes shut the Blue Devils out in the final 5 minutes of the game.

While the Nittany Lions battled on Sunday night, a poor stretch to finish the first half proved to be the undoing for Micah Shrewsberry’s crew. Ohio State out scored Penn State 36-18 to finish the first half which proved to be too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome. Ultimately, while it was an overall strong showing from the Nittany Lions, they came up short against the Buckeyes.

Another big factor in the Buckeye victory is that Chris Holtmann’s crew was better from three-point range than the Nittany Lions were. Ohio State suck 12 three-point shots while shooting 44.4% from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions shot just 31.2% from behind the arc while sinking just 5 three-point shots.

Four Factors Analysis

Player of the Game

Jalen Pickett. Pickett continues to impress with the Nittany Lions by putting together another strong game on Sunday night. He was 8/15 from the field, racking up a game high 23 points. In fact, he was the only player in the game to score more than 16 points. He also hauled in 4 rebounds while adding 3 assists. He also went 5/5 from the free throw line.

Random Observations

Jamari Wheeler heard it from the BJC crowd- We all know the story by now. This past offseason Wheeler entered the transfer portal and decided to leave Penn State for Ohio State. Wednesday night, he heard it from the BJC crowd. In pregame warmups he was booed and hear “traitor” chants from the student section. He was booed loudly every time he touched the ball and there were clear, audible cheers from the crowd every time he missed a shot. Wheeler was just 4/10 from the field and 1/6 from three-point range, so the BJC crowd may have been in his head.

John Harrar is a fighter - Foul issues highlighted a poor first half for Harrar that saw him play just 7 and a half minutes. In the second half Harrar played like a motivated man. This led to Harrar recording another double-double as the Big Ten’s leading rebounder finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds while going a nice 6/9 from the field.

36-18 Buckeye run put Nittany Lions in too big of a hole - Outside of the 36-18 run the Buckeyes went on to close the first half Penn State outscored Ohio State 46-40. Unfortunately, that run by Ohio State to close the first half put Penn State in too big of a hole to overcome. To the credit Coach Shrews crew, they never backed down and went down swinging.

Bench scoring was a problem - The Nittany Lions got just 5 bench points on Sunday night. Bench players were just 1/3 from the field with the lone shot that dropped be a three-pointer by Myles Dread. Jalanni White also chipped in a pair of free throws. Meanwhile, the Buckeye bench was 9/14 from the field, including 7/8 from three-point range, to go with 29 points. The depth of the Buckeyes paid off in their victory.

Looking Ahead

Next up for Penn State is a home game against Wagner on Wednesday night. No knock against the Seahawks, but this game should present the Nittany Lions with an opportunity to get back on track with a victory on Wednesday night.