Courtesy of MCT
Ohio State’s men’s basketball team got its second scorer when it needed him the most.
For much of this season, members of the No. 14-ranked Buckeyes have expressed the need for an additional offensive threat behind junior forward Deshaun Thomas.
Against unranked Penn State, though, such an conundrum failed to manifest itself as sophomore forward Sam Thompson dropped 16 points on the Nittany Lions en route to a 65-51 win Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
Already a Buckeye fan favorite because of his 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 its other starters shoot a combined 9-for-27.
Notably, 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.
The 11 points he mustered were the lowest output for Thomas in any game this season. And, perhaps against a more formidable opponent, such a deficit would’ve proved costly – especially on the road.
In losses against Duke, Illinois and Michigan State away from the comfortable confines of the Schottenstein Center, OSU stuggled to find someone – anyone – outside of the Big Ten’s leading scorer.
Need an example? Most recently, against the No. 13 Spartans, Thomas scored 28 of the Buckeyes’ 56 total points. In the team’s worst loss to date, a 74-55 defeat to the Illini, Thomas notched 24 points and junior guard Aaron Craft’s 11 points made him the only other Buckeye that day to score in double digits.
In its game against Penn State, however, Thomas had help – and not just from Thompson.
Junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. totaled 11 points and 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 OSU’s bench helped the Buckeyes manage a 43 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 outrebounded, 39-25, 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. Conversely, OSU
OSU is scheduled to next play Wisconsin Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.