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Penn State 83, Ohio State 80: Comeback Valley

The Nittany Lions ended a five-game losing skid with an incredible second half comeback win over the Buckeyes

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Following a much more inspired effort at Maryland that still ultimately fell short in overtime, Penn State returned to the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center to take on a much-improved Ohio State squad. With the way the Lions had looked since their trip to Florida for the ESPN Events Invitational, you could have probably predicted how this game went without me even going through a recap of the game itself: The Buckeyes had their way on the boards with the Nittany Lions, while PSU couldn’t play defense or make a layup to save their own hide, allowing OSU to take a double-digit lead to the locker room at halftime, which they would only continue to build on in the second half to ultimately win comfortably...

Well, the game was certainly following that script, with the Buckeyes leading by as many as 18 points five minutes into the second half and seemingly cruising to a win. That is, until the light slowly began to come on for this Penn State squad that was scrapped together via the transfer portal and was still very much learning how to play together. The Lions started getting more of their share of rebounds, dialed up the defensive intensity by forcing turnovers (OSU turned it over 16 times to PSU’s eight), and most importantly, started hitting some key three-pointers (led by Leo O’Boyle’s 4-for-5 from downtown).

With the game all tied up at 76 in the final minute, Ace Baldwin fired away from beyond the arc and connected, giving PSU their first lead since it was 17-16 w/12 minutes to play in the first half. OSU would respond with some buckets to keep the pressure on PSU, but the Lions would hit the majority of their free throws down the stretch to ultimately fend off the Buckeyes in a huge comeback upset win to end a five-game losing skid, notching their first win since November 17th.

Players of the Game

Kanye Clary - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

D’Marco Dunn - 16 points (2-of-4 3 PT FG), 4 rebounds, 3 steals

Leo O’Boyle - 15 points (4-of-5 3 PT FG), 4 rebounds, 1 steal

Kanye led the team in scoring, while Dunn and O’Boyle both provided a serious scoring boost off the bench. Considering that Leo is a scrappy, red-headed kid from Scranton, it only made sense that he saved his breakout game for a night like tonight.

Random Observations

  • Gelling Together? - It’s crazy to think this is the same team that only a week ago, looked absolutely clueless and listless in a loss to a Bucknell. Tonight seemed like more of the same until that incredible comeback, where it seemed like things finally were starting to click for this squad. I still anticipate a rough season overall in Big Ten play, but you certainly can never count this team out on any given night, so don’t be surprised to see a few more upsets like this.
  • Kudos To The Fans - For a team that was below .500 overall and on a serious losing streak, the home crowd really turned out well and as PSU started clawing their way back, you could feel the tension and the crowd ready to explode as the Lions climbed the mountain. What a reward for a bunch of folks who remained stubbornly loyal viewers of this product. It also adds a little juice to the team’s upcoming trip to New York City next weekend.
  • O’BOYLE RULES - Just had to give one more shout-out to the other Scranton gunslinger. Let’s hope this wasn’t a one-off and he’s finally found his touch, a la Andrew Funk last season.

Up Next

Penn State (5-5, 1-1 B1G) will go back to playing their final three non-conference games when they face Georgia Tech (5-3) next Saturday (December 16th) in NYC’s famed Madison Square Garden. Tip off will be at Noon EST on B1G Network.