Preview: Penn State vs. #2 Ohio State

By Joe Beale on January 15, 2011 at 6:00a
50 Comments

Talor Battle is a scoring machine.
Ohio State Buckeyes #2 Ohio State 17-0, 4-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 5:30 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH Penn State Nittany Lions Penn State 10-6, 3-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Coming off a close win in Ann Arbor for Hokeapalooza, the third-straight conference game that played out closer than the early season romps Buckeye fans had grown accustomed to, Thad Matta's crew welcomes perennial conference doormat Penn State this evening, looking to add a 14th-straight victory over the Nittany Lions.

With Duke losing at Florida State Wednesday night, OSU has a chance to claim the top spot in the next batch of polls with a win, but Ed DeChellis' team enters on a bit of a streak having knocked off #19 Michigan State and #16 Illinois in the two games leading up to tonight's contest. Saturday against the Spartans, Penn State rode strong defense and won the rebounding battle, while seeing three players not named "Talor Battle" go for double figures, while it was pretty much all Battle, including this 38-foot bomb on his way to 26 points in the upset over the Illini.

The wins marked the first time the Lions had beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back games since a Final Four run in 1954 which is in sharp contrast with the effort put forth earlier in the season. That effort, or lack thereof, was on display in an embarrassing home beat-down at the hands of Maryland and an "upset" loss to Maine which saw the Black Bears put up 43 second half points on Penn State.

# Name PTS REB ASST POS # Name PTS REB ASST
44 William Buford 13.7 4.4 3.6 G 12 Talor Battle 20.9 4.9 3.2
33 Jon Diebler 12.1 1.8 2.5 G 23 Tim Frazier 3.8 3.3 4.5
23 David Lighty 13.1 3.9 3.7 F 15 David Jackson 10.6 4.7 0.6
0 Jared Sullinger 17.5 10.1 1.2 F 25 Jeff Brooks 13.3 8.2 1.8
52 Dallas Lauderdale 4.8 4.6 0.2 C 22 Andrew Jones 6.3 5.6 0.7

Opponent

Though it doesn't often seem like it, the Nittany Lions have other players besides Battle, the league's leading scorer. Senior forward Jeff Brooks is the team's best rebounder and is averaging nearly a double-double and at 6-8, has the size to pose matchup problems. Forward David Jackson (6-7/210) and center Andrew Jones (6-10/245), both seniors as well, receive about 30 minutes, while sophomore guard Tim Frazier (6-1/160) is the distributor, but isn't much of a threat to pile up points as he's yet to crack double digits this season.

While the supporting cast has stepped up at times, everything still goes through the dynamic Battle. A two-time all-conference selection (first team as a sophomore, second team last year as a junior), Battle was the only player from a BCS conference to lead his team in scoring (18.8), rebounding (5.4), assists (4.1) and steals (1.1) last season. This year, it's been more of the same. He has six games with at 25 or more points with a high of 31 established against Duquesne (12/4) and Michigan (1/2). Only once has he been held below 13 points in a contest, when he finished with nine points on 4/15 shooting against Central Connecticut earlier in the season.

Tonight's affair will be Penn State's fourh-straight (of five) against top 20 competition. Getting a win in Columbus against the nation's #2 (for now) team will be a tall order, but it's Big Ten play, so we're not about to rule anything out just yet.

Buckeye Breakdown:

For the first time all season, the Buckeyes were tasked with pulling out a close game without manchild Jared Sullinger after he received his fifth foul late in the second half against the Wolverines. Quite frankly, foul problems or an injury to Sully are the only things that have a chance of derailing this team, but Matta's squad is blessed with four other players that average double figures, and they largely stepped up on the road Wednesday night.

The Wolverines did a great job of sagging and doubling, so Sullinger will be looking to rebound strong at home after finishing with just 12 points on 4-6 shooting, especially with his string of conference Freshman of the Week honors in jeopardy. Look for every team in the Big Ten to try to emulate Michigan's approach and if Penn State can provide the same kind of defense and support -- which they certainly have the size to do -- Buford, Diebler and Lighty will have to step up. They've been doing it all season, so it's a pick-your-poison type thing when trying to defense this team. One thing to keep an eye on, however, is how Diebler responds after hyperextending his elbow against Michigan.

Defensively, look for Lighty to draw the bulk of the work trying to slow down Battle with help from Buford and anyone nearby. The Penn State guard is one of the top three players in the conference, so stopping him is likely out of the question. Holding him to 15 points or less should be considered a good night.

Etc

  • At 17-0, this team is currently tied with the Jim Jackson-powered 1990-91 team for the third-best start in school history. The 1960-61 team started 27-0 and the 1961-62 team started the year 22-0.
  • David Lighty is just four rebounds away from joining Jackson and Evan Turner in the 1,000 point, 500 rebounds, 300 assists club.
  • Don't forget to stay tuned to the BTN after the game when Jerry Lucas is featured as Big Ten Icon #8.
50 Comments

Comments

Reens's picture

I'm loving these close games and double-teaming Sullinger. I think Minnesota may have started something and other teams are catching on. These true freshman need to experience as much adversity as they can if they're going anywhere. I love that Sullinger blew up - like Thad said, they're ALL learning experiences and you can be sure Thad isn't letting these kids walk away from these games with just a simple W.

I won't even be mad seeing them lose either. I surely don't hope for it, but it's better that they lose earlier, get things in order and practice them in games leading up to the tourney. I don't know what those things will be cause this team looks good, but there are some weaknesses.

ERIC OSU's picture

Agree with you Reens, nice post.  Battle is going to get him high teens - low twentys on the scoresheet by the end of the night, its enivitable.  For one, I remember lighty doing a 'el of a job guarding him in State College last year and I expect the same matchup tonight.  So if it takes Battle 20 shots to get 22 pts tonight instead of say 13-16 shots, than I consider that a success.  Another key for me is if we stop the "role" players on State Penn from having a big night we should come out with the victory.  No way that Sullinger should have a problem with Andrew Jones down in the blocks.  Jones abused Mike Tisdale at times in their last contest; but lets be honest Tisdale is a complete stiff and to me will go down as one of the most "puzzling?" players in the Big Ten Conference.  As long as Sullinger is kicking out to Diebs,Buford,Craft,Lighty etc. (on double teams) and they are canning the three-ball, defenses will be forced to attempt to play him straight up.

Reens's picture

Right on, Eric. That's why this team is so dangerous. The inside/outside presence that OSU has is almost scary. You're right - no question at all that this team can score, but they need to make a lot of stops. I know it's unlike Matta, but I wouldn't mind seeing some presses just to mix it up. This is the time to do it - you can take chances with scorers like this...in my opinion.

A little disappointing there aren't more posts about this team. This as exciting as it gets for me in college ball. Not cause of the position, but cause we get to see these young kids develop over the season. I love the hype that Sullinger/Lighty/Diebs but I think that Craft could be a huge X factor as we get deeper into the season. Not to mention Buford.

The_Lurker's picture

Yeah I'm not sure why the hoops team doesn't get more love. This is a special team we have this season and certainly worth following closely. I hope they take care of business today so we can see how they respond to wearing the No.1 target on their backs while having to visit Illinois.

Reens's picture

Agreed. Speaking of, isn't Demetri McCamey older than Lighty?! What the crap. Feels like I remember Scoonie Penn guarding him.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I can't wait to see how Craft performs against Battle today.

Jason Priestas's picture

Buckeyes are rocking new unis today: http://go.osu.edu/NewUnis

Jason Priestas's picture

Here's a shot of the back of the new jerseys:

JakeBuckeye's picture

I don't have the B1G Network so I hadn't seen these, but.......

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I hate those! Duke and Kentucky and other basketball powers have similar ones. I was hoping we weren't heading down that path.

Jason Priestas's picture

Yeah, I defended both sets of football uniforms, but these are wack.

TLB's picture

Agree, it is a poor choice.

Jason Priestas's picture

Kind of surprised you even tuned into the basketball game at all with DLB doing his thing.

JakeBuckeye's picture

And at least those football ones were only for one game out of the entire season. Granted, THE GAME, but still.

Bobcat04's picture

The jerseys look decent, but the team looks like crap on defense.  They are definitely not #1 in the country.  Penn State seems to have scored every possession.  

Bobcat04's picture

And most on wide open shots.

JakeBuckeye's picture

We still haven't lost and Kansas also has had many close games, I say we're number one if we can pull this one off.

BuckeyeChief's picture

The fact they are wearing those is a shock; I hadn't seen anything about them on Uniwatch...

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

Bobcat04's picture

Definitely not #1.  A LOT of work to do before March.

poguemahone's picture

I think he's more saying that we're not the best team around. Yeah, Duke lost, but in general, they have less to work on than we do. From my amateur perspective anyway.

tomcollins's picture

If I had to wager, Duke will come into march with a better record.  But playing in a weak ass conference will do that.  18-0 is a great accomplishment.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

WTF??? These close games are killing me!!! My heart would much prefer Buckeye blowouts!

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Craft is steppin' up! Love this kid.

Bobcat04's picture

Yeah, he's about the only player stepping up.  Some of our guys tend to disappear at times.  

Bobcat04's picture

I'd love to know how many wide open shots PSU has hit right under the hoop a result of great feeds that just TORCH our defense.

Bobcat04's picture

We're also going to have to find a way to get Sullinger out of those double teams.  He's been far less effective with the sagging zone.

tomcollins's picture

Love that the refs are calling Battle on his BS.  All he does is drive to the hoop and try to get a foul.

Bobcat04's picture

Just like you said.  If he can fall down and draw an automatic call, it's bad.

Bobcat04's picture

Some pretty bad officiating as well.

tomcollins's picture

LOL Foul by Battle falling into him.

poguemahone's picture

Officiating has been AWFUL today. Both ways. Incredible.

TLB's picture

Only checking in on Steeler commercials......what the hell?

Bobcat04's picture

You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

Bobcat04's picture

Now Sully is taking over.

poguemahone's picture

Jeez. Finally they call some of the mugging down under.

poguemahone's picture

That "foul" where Battle fell over pretty much summed up this whole game.

tomcollins's picture

Battle is such a bitch, so glad to only face him one more time.  He makes games unwatchable.

Bobcat04's picture

WHEW!  This was a glass half empty-half full game.  We are still undefeated, and not many can say that, but if we play like that against Purdue/Illinois/Wisky on the road, it'll be an absolute curb stomping.  We couldn't stop a freaking yawn today.  PSU seemed to just carve up that defense sometimes.

poguemahone's picture

Expert use of photoshop

Hopalong's picture

black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow