Ohio State beats Penn State 65-51
Penn State wanted to limit the scoring of Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas. And for the most part, the Nittany Lions did, holding the Buckeyes' leading scorer to 11 points.
Sam Thompson picked up the slack.
Thompson scored 16 points on just seven shots from the field Saturday as the No. 14 Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 65-51 in the Bryce Jordan Center.
"Sam was tremendous today," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I really challenged Sam to play his best basketball. From the standpoint of what he brought to the table today, I couldn't be happier for him."
Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) shot a modest 44 percent from the field, even after opening the game by making seven of their first 10 field-goal attempts. It held Penn State (8-12, 0-8) to 36 percent shooting. The Nittany Lions, who have lost 18 straight games to the Buckeyes dating back to 2004, made just 4 of 17 3-point shots.
"I thought our defense was pretty good," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We put a lot of pressure on our offense when you don't make shots. I thought we had a good game plan."
Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 11 points and added eight rebounds for Ohio State, which enjoyed a 39-25 advantage on the boards and allowed the Nittany Lions to grab just two offensive rebounds.
Jermaine Marshall, who had 16 points, and D.J. Newbill, who had 15, were the only Penn State players to reach double figures. Ohio State's bench outscored Penn State's 17-7.
Penn State got no closer than within 10 points during the second half and trailed for all but one minute of the contest. The Buckeyes had a 5-minute scoring drought in the second half but never lost their double-digit lead at any point during it.
The Nittany Lions took good care of the basketball, committing only two turnovers in each half after committing 18 turnovers in Wednesday's loss at Indiana.
"We were focusing on making the smarter passes, simple passes, simple plays," said Newbill, who had six assists and one turnover. "Just keeping it to basic basketball."
Penn State missed nine of its 22 free-throw attempts, however, and scored just 18 first-half points. Ohio State was 19 of 23 at the line and made its last 11 free-throw attempts.
"Knocking those down was kind of what finished the game off for us," Matta said. "Any time you step up and make two it really helps your cause. You get to set your defense and go from there."
Ohio State patiently worked the ball around Penn State's 2-3 zone in the first half and found open shots. The Buckeyes surged out to a 19-11 lead. Thomas and Thompson had seven points apiece in the half. Thomas played just 9 minutes in the half due to foul trouble.
It helped that Penn State, which shot 29 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range in the first half, went nearly 14 minutes without a field goal after that.
The Buckeyes extended their lead to 25-12 before a 3-pointer by Marshall, who had 10 first-half points, ended the Nittany Lions' drought.
Penn State was able to keep Ohio State from extending its lead in the second half by switching defenses and contesting the Buckeyes' shots.
"We tried to mix our defenses up and tried to mix our ball screens," Chambers said. "I thought our guys coming out of timeouts were dialed in. I thought we executed really well and made sure we had a body on these guys and made it tough to score the basketball."
Three of Penn State's last four losses have come at the hands of teams ranked in the nation's top 20.
"We're getting better. You might not see it, but I see it," Chambers said. "We're playing against the best teams in the country."
Notes: Newbill and Marshall ranked in the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring, at 15.5 and 15.0 points per game, respectively, heading into Saturday. ... Penn State's eight-game conference losing streak is its longest since the Nittany Lions lost their first 13 Big Ten games of the 2009-10 season.
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