Ohio State men’s basketball punctuated a statement week Saturday as it led from tipoff to final horn during its first taste of conference play against Penn State.
The Nittany Lions (7-2, 0-1 Big Ten) never recovered from a sluggish shooting start, and the No. 6 Buckeyes (9-0, 1-0) rolled to a 106-74 win at the Schottenstein Center behind a season-best performance from junior forward Kaleb Wesson.
Penn State was cold early, hitting just four of its first 18 shots –– and 1-for-8 from 3 –– while Ohio State went on a 9-0 run in the middle of the first half.
Kaleb Wesson hit his first three shots to open the game, including a 3-pointer and a deft finish at the rim avoiding a Penn State defender. The Buckeye big man led Ohio State to a 58 percent shooting start in the first half, and his hot start was a sign of things to come.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Kaleb Wesson drilled back-to-back triples to slam the door shut on the Nittany Lions. Wesson finished with a season-high 28 points, and a career-high four 3-pointers.
The Big Ten’s second-leading scorer, Penn State senior forward Lamar Stevens, picked up two early fouls that limited his first half minutes. Stevens fell victim to a highlight block by Ohio State junior forward Kaleb Wesson early, but still managed to score nine points in the first half.
Stevens would score just two more points before fouling out with 13:26 left in the second half, his fifth coming on a technical foul as frustrations mounted for the Nittany Lions.
Ohio State sophomore guard Duane Washington, the hero of the Buckeyes’ 25-point win over then-No. 7 North Carolina Wednesday, had just two points in the first half against Penn State. He found his stroke in the second, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a 14-point night.
Midway through the second half, redshirt junior guard CJ Walker kicked out to senior forward Andre Wesson for a 3-pointer that extended an 8-0 Buckeye run to a 19-point lead. The Wesson brothers combined for 43 points on the day, and Ohio State shot 66.7 percent from behind the arc in the second half.
Penn State began to find its mark after thawing off in the first half, hitting 7-of-10 shots after the slow start, and back-to-back 3s from freshman forward Seth Lundy and sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington kept them in striking distance in the final minutes of the half.
Brockington got a steal that led to a transition dunk to continue a 7-0 scoring run for Penn State, and a Buckeye lead that was once 15 suddenly shrank to seven.
However, Ohio State sophomore guard Luther Mihammad drained a 3-pointer on the next possession to push the lead back to double digits, and the Buckeyes survived the late push by Penn State to hold a 46-35 lead at the half.
Penn State senior forward Mike Watkins came alive in the second half, scoring on two offensive rebounds to keep the Nittany Lions in the game while the Buckeyes went on a three-minute scoring drought.
The Nittany Lions wouldn’t get any closer to a lead though, and junior foward Kyle Young finished a dunk on a lob from Muhammad with four minutes to go that was part of a 15-0 run.
The Buckeyes’ nine-game win streak is its longest since the 2013-14 season, when they won their first 15 games to start the year.
Ohio State goes on the road for a matchup at Minnesota Dec. 15 for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.