Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
For some time, members of Ohio State’s men’s basketball team have expressed the need for a second scorer behind junior forward Deshaun Thomas.
Against unranked Penn State, the Buckeyes got exactly that.
In the process, OSU defeated the Nittany Lions, 65-51 Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
And, largely, it was thanks to sophomore forward Sam Thompson.
Arguably already a Buckeye fan favorite because of his effortless theatrical dunks, Thompson’s 16 points helped push OSU (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) past a Penn State squad that finds itself still winless (0-8) in Big Ten play more than halfway through the regular season.
Thompson, who was 6-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-2 behind the arc, proved to be a catalyst for OSU in a game that saw four of its other starters shoot a combined 9-for-27.
Notably, junior forward Deshaun Thomas struggled with his touch against Penn State (8-12, 0-8 Big Ten), shooting 4-for-13 and 1-for-3 from 3-point range.
Thomas, though, still managed 11 points, as did junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., who knocked down 7-of-8 free throws to help keep the game out of reach from a gritty, yet offensively anemic, Nittany Lions crew.
While Thompson and OSU’s bench helped the Buckeyes manage a 44 percent outing from the floor, Penn State shot 36 percent in total and 24 percent from behind the arc (4-for-17).
Most devastating for the Nittany Lions, though, was a 10-minute scoring drought in the first half that allowed OSU to mount a double-digit cushion that would withstand a late Penn State rally that cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 10 with 2:41 to play.
It wasn’t enough to overcome an otherwise shaky performance, as the Nittany Lions were out-rebounded, 38-25, despite only turning the ball over four times compared to OSU’s eight miscues.
OSU also made 83 percent of its 23 free throw attempts while Penn State struggled its way to a 59 percent connection rate.
The loss is the Nittany Lions’ 18th straight to OSU.
OSU is scheduled to next play Wisconsin Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.