In a day full of large comebacks and record-setting performances, Penn State looked to put their own stamp of the craziness that has been the early portion of the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana overcame a 15-point deficit to beat Michigan. Iowa set records for points, field goals, and three pointers made in their win against Northwestern. Maryland nearly completed their own 20-point comeback to beat Michigan State, but the Spartans ultimately prevailed. All that was left to figure out was who would face Purdue in the quarterfinals of the event.
Just like the first round, Penn State started ice cold in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament against Ohio State. Luckily for them, so did the Buckeyes, at least for the first 10 or so minutes of the contest. As the half went on, Ohio State started to find the bottom of the net, and quickly a 5-2 contest turned into a 12-5 contest, and then into a 20-7 contest, and, just like against Rutgers on Sunday, you kind of felt like Ohio State was ready to blow this game wide open —or, rather, more wide open than an early 13-point lead would indicate. Just like Minnesota the previous night, Penn State found themselves with abysmal shooting numbers at the half, while the Buckeyes looked quite comfortable shooting the ball.
Penn State, of course, in true Penn State fashion, settled into a bit of a rhythm and started to cut into the deficit. They’d close it in as low as five points, but Ohio State made a few key plays down the stretch that would see them taking a nine-point lead into the half.
Like Minnesota the night before, Penn State just keep chugging along. Little by little, gritty not pretty, the Nittany Lions chipped away at the Ohio State lead. The biggest key was a change in philosophy for the team. Instead of settling for jumpers and threes, Penn State deliberately drove the ball into the paint and made the Buckeyes have to guard the duo of Sam Sessoms and Jalen Pickett. John Harrar added his double-double, and both Seth Lundy and Myles Dread finished in double figures to boot. In fact, even Jaheam Cornwall found the bottom of the net, as he astutely passed up a three and drove to the lane, the shot going in, and a foul tacked on for good measure.
Before you knew it, the Nittany Lions found themselves up 61-58. From there, it was a matter of playing keep away, and that they did. The second round of the Big Ten Tournament saw three crazy comebacks. Penn State was on the right side of one of them.
Micah Shrewsberry’s old boss awaits, as the Nittany Lions take on Purdue on Friday. The Boilermakers have ended Penn State’s two most recent deep runs in the Big Ten Tournament. Here’s to hoping third time’s the charm. Game will tip off at approximately 9 PM on the Big Ten Network.