Home » Sports » Basketball » Ohio State men’s basketball loses to Penn State for first time under Thad Matta

Ohio State men’s basketball loses to Penn State for first time under Thad Matta

An inability to put teams away, a lack of toughness or simply missing shots — no matter how you look at it, the Ohio State Buckeyes are no longer undefeated against Penn State with Thad Matta as their coach.

Matta’s streak of 17 straight wins against the Nittany Lions came to an end Wednesday, after a jumper in the lane by Penn State redshirt-junior guard D.J. Newbill with 1.9 seconds left in overtime gave them the lead, 71-70. OSU senior guard Aaron Craft was unable to get a shot off at the buzzer and the Buckeyes suffered their fifth loss in six games.

“We weren’t the tougher basketball team tonight,” Craft said after the loss. “That’s what it comes down to, 10-point lead with however much time we have left, and we just couldn’t do it.”

Newbill carried Penn State down the stretch, scoring 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and overtime, including a 3-pointer that tied the game with 11 seconds left in regulation.

“This was more than a winnable basketball game,” Matta said after the loss. “It’s one of those things that we’ve got to — we gotta be a tougher physically and tougher mentally basketball team.”

The Buckeyes held the lead for the majority of the second half, but were unable to convert when it counted, failing on three attempts before the buzzer sounded in regulation to win.

Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. was at a loss for words following the game, but did say the loss “hurts the most out of every game” since he’s been a Buckeye.

“This is embarrassing,” Smith Jr. said. “Every other team in our conference is laughing at us right now.”

The Nittany Lions (11-10, 2-6), jumped out to an early 15-11 lead on OSU, aided by just 3-10 shooting by the Buckeyes in the game’s first eight minutes.

OSU’s shooting percentage improved late in the half, as it used a 7-3 run to take a 35-31 lead into halftime.

The Buckeyes (16-5, 3-5) would increase the lead to 11 after two free throws by junior forward LaQuinton Ross, but Penn State would not go away.

OSU had multiple opportunities to extend the lead, but was unable to do it and Newbill hit big shots down the stretch to secure the win.

Ross led OSU with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Smith Jr. added 15 points of his own in the loss.

OSU’s last two losses come by a combined seven points to Nebraska Jan. 20 and Penn State. Both are teams that typically sit near the bottom of the Big Ten standings throughout the course of the season, so are OSU’s problems stemming from a lack of motivation against the traditionally weaker conference opponents?

“I would hope not,” Matta said. “I would hope not. Yeah, I would hope not.”

For Penn State — who has three conference losses by three points or less — a road win against OSU is “exciting,” Nittany Lion head coach Pat Chambers said.

“I’m excited for the kids, for our players,” Chambers said after his team’s win. “It’s so hard, losing by a possession and the ball doesn’t bounce your way … I’m happy for them. They deserved to get one back, so to speak.”

For whatever reason, OSU continues to struggle as it makes it way through the rugged Big Ten. The Buckeyes are just 1-5 since starting the season 15-0.

“In this league, if you don’t come to play every night, you’re going to lose, as you see tonight,” Smith Jr. said, seemingly shaking off tears. “Top 25 teams at home don’t lose these games. And we lost.”

Up next, OSU is set to travel to No. 14 Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3) to take on the Badgers at noon Saturday in Madison, Wis.


  1. What a pathetic showing last night. I bleed scarlet and gray, but the last six games have been hard to watch. After a 15-0 start, the team is getting worse rather than better. I don’t even want to watch the next two games against Iowa and Wisconsin because if we play like we have recently, we will be embarrassed and run off the court. Maybe we should just pack it up and wait until next year.

  2. To be tough mentally and physically it helps to play a tough schedule prior to Big 10 Conference games. A soft schedule does not make you a tough team!!! We clearly did not deserve a # 3 ranking. Keep working hard Bucks! When you get tired of being embarrassed, you will quickly learn how to play tough.

  3. To Smith’s point: OSU is no longer a Top 25 team, so those coming home loses won’t apply. Just an amazing turnaround. But look at Wisconsin and Baylor. Two teams high in the sky, now struggling to win. It happens and this is OSU’s year to lose those games they used to win. Last place in the Big Ten is not out of the question, particularly looking at the last ten games, four against ranked opponents.

  4. As someone who used to cover Basketbucks for the Lantern, it’s the coaching that has me worried for the first time since Matta has been here. Missing free throws and making turnovers are FIXABLE problems in practice. Just what are they working on?

  5. Most teams have a bad season sometimes, and 17-5 isn’t too shabby for a “bad season”, but the sudden collapse has me baffled. Sam D has a good point that it might be a good idea to beef up the pre-conference schedule. I’m not saying that it has to be Duke or UCLA for every game, why are there so many games against the likes of Southwestern Arkansas Tech-Hot Springs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.