INDIANAPOLIS — Thad Matta's Ohio State team remains alive for an NCAA Tournament bid, but just barely.
Ohio State, ignited by its 1-2-2 press, used a huge run early in the second half and withstood a late push by Penn State to dispatch the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions, 79-75, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday.
The No. 7 seed Buckeyes (20-12, 12-7 Big Ten) advance to the tournament's quarterfinals and play No. 2 Michigan State Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Penn State (16-16, 7-12) led 37-34 at the break and scored the first two points of the second half, but the Buckeyes responded with 14 straight to retake the lead. The Nittany Lions fought back, however, and led 67-66 after two Shep Garner free throws with 4:12 left.
But a series of tough finishes by JaQuan Lyle and free throws by Marc Loving resulted in an ensuing 13-8 run by the Buckeyes to close the game.
Penn State used a 10-0 run and led by as many as 10 at one point in the first half behind strong 3-point shooting. Ohio State kept itself in the game, however, because of Loving's ability to get to the line. He scored eight of his 13 first-half points from the charity stripe. The Buckeyes finished 26-of-39 from the line.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||PENN STATE|
|24-55 (44)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||26-59 (44)|
|5-14 (36)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-22 (41)|
|26-39 (67)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14-21 (67)|
The Nittany Lions made as many shots from beyond the arc (seven) as they inside it in the opening 20 minutes, as Ohio State failed to close out on shooters. Leading scorers Garner and Brandon Taylor each had 12 points at halftime. Taylor finished with 14.
Garner finished with a team-high 25 points and Donovon Jack added 18 off the bench. Loving led all scorers with 24 points, 13 coming from the free-throw line.
Lyle scored 22 points, gathered 10 rebounds and dished out five assists for his second career double-double. Keita Bates-Diop scored 14, and Trevor Thompson had 10.
It is the 12th straight season the Buckeyes have reached the 20-win plateau, all under Matta.