Ohio State’s win against Nebraska Tuesday could have been a turning point for the sliding Buckeyes, but with a flat performance against Penn State Saturday, it will prove a mere blip on the radar.
No. 21 Ohio State (12-6, 2-5 Big Ten) dropped its fifth game of the past six with a 90-76 loss on the road to a Penn State (13-5, 3-4) team that had been on a skid of its own.
Having just put an end to a four-game losing streak, the question was which Ohio State team would come out against Penn State on the road?
Certainly not the one that hung 106 on the Nittany Lions in the teams’ first meeting a month ago, as the Buckeyes shot just 35.7 percent from the field in the first half.
Instead it was Penn State –– trying to stop a three-game losing skid of its own –– that got hot early, knocking down 53.3 percent of its first half shots to go with six made 3-pointers.
Trailing nearly the entire game, Ohio State cut it to 12 in the final minutes with a 3 from junior forward Kaleb Wesson, but Penn State senior forward Lamar Stevens came back down with a thunderous one-handed slam to keep the Buckeyes out of reach.
Stevens finished with a game-high 24 points.
Five minutes into the second half, Penn State junior forward John Harrar threw down a two-handed dunk, and a jumper from sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington on the next possession gave Penn State its largest lead of the game at 20 points.
Nittany Lion foul trouble left the door open for Ohio State though, as the Buckeyes shot 29 free throws in the game.
Two made free throws from Kaleb Wesson cut the Nittany Lion lead to 14 midway through the second half, but sophomore guard Myreon Jones kept Penn State up big when he answered with his second 3 of the game.
Two of Penn State’s early 3s came from senior forward and scoring leader Stevens, who led the Nittany Lions with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Stevens fouled out of the first matchup early in the second half, but showed why he could’ve made a difference down the stretch in the Buckeyes’ 32-point blowout victory with his performance Saturday.
The Buckeyes started 2-for-12 from the field, and a Stevens 3 was part of a 7-0 Penn State run that gave the Nittany Lions a 21-7 lead with nine minutes left in the half.
Kaleb Wesson found senior forward Andre Wesson for a catch-and-shoot 3 that cut the Penn State lead to 28-21, but the deficit would quickly balloon back to 15 by halftime.
Kaleb Wesson led the way for the Buckeyes early, scoring 12 points despite his first two post entries of the game resulting in Penn State steals.
Ohio State sophomore guards Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad returned for Ohio State after a one-game suspension at the start of the week. Washington dropped seven points in the first half, but Muhammad couldn’t find the bottom of the net on his lone shot attempt.
Washington finished with 18 points on the night.
The Buckeyes return to Columbus Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. meeting with Minnesota at the Schottenstein Center.