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Penn State 75, Ohio State 71: Nittany Lions Win Third in a Row, Keep NCAA Tournament Dreams Alive

Following a 75-71 victory in Columbus on Thursday night the Nittany Lions have now won three games in a row and have a trio of Quad 1 wins this season

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Nittany Lions traveled to Columbus on Thursday night in search of their third consecutive victory. Looking to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, Micah Shrewsberry’s team did indeed pick up their third victory in a row. Following a 75-71 victory over Ohio State, Penn State is 17-11 on the season and now owns a trio of Quad 1 victories on the season.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair. A first half that had 12 lead changes, fittingly, ended with the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes tied at 37. For Penn State, they were happy to be tied at the half after Jalen Pickett picked up two fouls early in the half and had to sit for over 5 minutes as a result.

Pickett scored just 2 points in the first half and struggled to get into a rhythm early in the second half as well. With their superstar struggling for the first 25 minutes of the game Cam Wynter stepped up in a big way for the Nittany Lions. Wynter went 4/5 from three-point range in an 18 point, 6 rebound performance.

The back-and-forth manner of the game continued into the second half. Both teams would exchange one big shot after another as the lead continued to change hands. Following 20 total lead changes, the Nittany Lions mostly controlled the final 5 minutes of the game.

A big reason the Nittany Lions were able to pick up the victory is that Pickett would get going in the second half. Pickett’s big second half included a huge three-point play, as well as sinking two big free throws within the final minute of the game. This was part of Pickett’s 21 second half points on his way to finishing the game with 23 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.

In a pleasant change from the norm the Nittany Lions also spent their fair share of time at the free throw line. With the Nittany Lions (mostly) actually getting calls they would capitalize going 11/15 from the stripe while the Buckeyes only attempted 6 free throws.

Player of the Game

Seth Lundy - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists

Yes, Pickett did his thing and helped the Nittany Lions finish this game off. That said, if not for what Seth Lundy did early in the game with Pickett in foul trouble and struggling the Nittany Lions may have found themselves in a big hole. Lundy had a great defensive night, while also scoring 19 points and going 4/8 from three-point range. Lundy’s offensive and defensive presence in the first half with Pickett off the court and struggling is what gets him the nod.

Random Observations

Jalen Pickett is fearless — Okay, so, admittedly, this may not be a random observation. Nor is it really news to anyone. However, with Pickett sitting on three fouls in the second half he continued to drive to the basket and play an aggressive, physical style of basketball. A lot of players would have changed their style of play in that situation, but Pickett did not and that played a huge role in the Nittany Lion victory.

Kanye Clary keeps providing a spark — In recent weeks Kanye Clary’s play has improved and his minutes have gone up. Thursday night he was all over the court for the Nittany Lions, and scored 6 points. He has become a quality spark plug off the bench for Penn State.

Andrew Funk steps up guarding the line — Entering play on Thursday Andrew Funk led the Big Ten in three pointers made. However, he did not attempt a three on Thursday while going 0/2 from the field. Funk did step up defensively though especially guarding the three-point line. There was more than one occurrence where it looked like the Buckeyes would have an open look from three only for Funk to come sprinting over and be there defensively.

Next Up

Sunday evening the Nittany Lions will host Rutgers to the Bryce Jordan Center. After losing in Piscataway late last month, Penn State will be looking to return the favor at home in what would be a massive win for their NCAA Tournament hopes. Tipoff from the Bryce Jordan Center is scheduled for 6:30 PM ET on Sunday and will be broadcast on BTN.