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Men’s Basketball: No. 8 Ohio State eyeing revenge against Penn State in Happy Valley

Ohio State senior guard Kam Williams (15) looks to drive in the first half of the game against Penn State on Jan. 25 in the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

The No. 8 Ohio State men’s basketball team suffered its first and only Big Ten loss of the season to Penn State on Jan. 25 at home, when sophomore guard Tony Carr drilled a shot near half court at the buzzer to end the game.

Now the Buckeyes (22-5, 13-1 Big Ten) are traveling to the Bryce Jordan Center to face Penn State (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) for a chance at redemption at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Penn State is coming off a 22-point road win against Illinois. The Nittany Lions have won their past three games, with the most recent loss at No. 2 Michigan State on Feb. 10. The Buckeyes are entering with a blowout win of their own against Iowa.

Projected Starters

Penn State

F— Lamar Stevens — Sophomore, 6-foot-8, 226 lbs, 15.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 apg

G— Tony Carr — Sophomore, 6-foot-5, 204 lbs, 19.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.9 apg

G— Shep Garner — Senior, 6-foot-2, 196 lbs, 10.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.4 apg

G— Josh Reaves — Junior, 6-foot-4, 210 lbs, 10.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.2 apg

F— Mike Watkins — Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-9, 254 lbs, 12.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 0.7 apg

Ohio State

F— Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs, 12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg

F— Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs, 19.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.6 apg

F— Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs, 11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg

G— C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs, 12.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.2 apg

F— Andre Wesson — Sophomore, 6-foot-6, 220 lbs, 2.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.1 apg

Scouting Penn State

Ohio State has been consistent defensively and ranks second in the Big Ten with a plus-5.9 rebounding margin. But the Buckeyes had a difficult time defending Penn State in their previous matchup.

“They’re a difficult matchup for us because of their personnel and they’ve got great size. They really play well together, too,” head coach Chris Holtmann said. “We have more matchup issues with Penn State than anyone in the league.”

Holtmann said his team needs to have a stronger defensive attack Thursday night because Penn State can “really shoot the ball.” As a team, Penn State’s 47.3 percent field-goal rate is seventh in the Big Ten, while its 37.5 percent 3-point rate ranks fifth in the conference.

Carr is shooting 46 percent from 3 for the Nittany Lions this season, and ranks second in the Big Ten in points per game with 19.2. In Penn State’s first game against the Buckeyes, Carr scored 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

The focus for Ohio State this time around is preventing the Nittany Lions from establishing a  scoring rhythm like they did last time. Penn State made their first five 3s to begin the last meeting between the two teams.

“They like to play a lot of one-on-one, and obviously, they have a lot of real good players so you’re going to get beat sometimes,” sophomore forward Andre Wesson said. “But we have to focus more on not wanting to get scored on.”

Kam Williams Returns

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann announced Wednesday he expects redshirt senior guard Kam Williams to return from his suspension and play at Penn State.

Wesson filled Williams’ spot in the starting lineup for the three games he missed, and Holtmann said he anticipates keeping Wesson in the starting role. He said Williams has to earn his way back.

In Ohio State’s loss to Penn State, Williams had 10 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field.

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