Ohio State continued started up another winning streak tonight, beating Penn State 75-55. It was the Buckeyes fifth win in their last six games, despite not having big man Anthony Lee due to a groin injury. OSU was also still without Marc Loving, their second leading scorer, who remains suspended for reasons the school will not disclose.
It was expected to be a closer match-up than the end result, but the Nittany Lions got started slow, missing their first eight shots. They never lead the game, and it was only tied for a mere 19 seconds. The Buckeyes built up a lead quickly that they would not relinquish.
“I saw us get deflated. I haven’t seen that all year,” Penn State Head Coach Pat Chambers said, “we’re all about defending and rebounding, and we did not do that tonight.”
Offense was the major woe for Penn State, as they shot just 32.2% for the game under the Buckeyes withering defense. “We’ve struggled in previous games to come out to great starts, but recently we’ve been picking it up,” said Freshman phenom D’Angelo Russell.
Though he had an off night shooting, Russell still managed 17 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, which was as many as the entire Penn State team. “The stats show up and I get a lot of attention, but I give credit to my teammates for the stats that don’t show up,” Russell said, “teams can’t really key on me if other guys are stepping up…it makes the game a lot easier for me.”
One of the people who stepped up tonight was Senior Sam Thompson, who continued to add to his career highlight reel with multiple high flying dunks on his way to a career high in points (22). Senior teammate Shannon Scott also set his own career high with 10 rebounds. “Seniors have to step up, and the younger guys need to keep doing what they’re doing,” Thompson said after the game.
Buckeyes Head Coach Thad Matta was impressed with how Thompson’s game has progressed in his time at Ohio State to include jump shooting as well as the dunks. Besides being a force in the paint, Thompson also led the team in threes tonight, going 3-5 from beyond the arc. “Everyone fears [Thompson] is running to the rim. When he can step up and knock down a shot, it opens up the game for us,” Matta said.
Matta was also quick to praise Russell and his contributions. “That’s the sign of a great basketball player. [Russell] had an off night and still did so many things well,” Matta said.
The Buckeyes finish up a tough week with a road game against Michigan State on Sunday. It is their third game in seven days. “Going on the road for the next two, we’ve got to get our rest,” Matta said, “I told the guys it’s basically an NBA schedule this week.”
After the Michigan State game, which Matta said will “hopefully” feature the return of Loving, the Buckeyes have a big break, not playing again until Sunday the 22nd at Michigan.