Ohio State survives.
An advantage of as many as 12 points in the first half of Wednesday's game against Penn State dwindled to four points by halftime. CJ Walker's first half-opening 3-pointer put the Buckeyes up by seven points, but a 10-0 Nittany Lions run suddenly gave the visitors to the Schottenstein the lead for the first time all night. They controlled the action, leading for nearly the rest of the half – but not the entirety.
The Buckeyes somehow survived, pulling out an 83-79 win to avoid an upset that at points seemed probable. Ohio State improved to 13-4 on the season and 7-4 within the Big Ten. Penn State fell to 5-7 on the season and 2-6 within the conference.
E.J. Liddell's layup with 3:12 remaining put Ohio State on top by a point, but a Myles Dread triple gave Penn State a two-point lead on the ensuing possession, starting back-and-forth action between the teams. Duane Washington Jr. proceed to his a 3 of his own just 29 seconds later. Seth Lundy hit the Buckeyes right back with a 3-pointer to put Penn State right back ahead.
A pair of Justice Sueing free throws tied it at 79-79 with 1:37 remaining. Liddell's two free throws with 59 seconds left gave the Buckeyes a two-point lead. A Myreon Jones missed floater late in the game ended Penn State's chances of a win with two more Liddell free throws icing the game.
Liddell led the Buckeyes with 20 points, getting to the free-throw line eight times and making all of his foul shots. His team shot 51.9 percent from the floor, though it committed a season-high 17 turnovers. Sueing recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
For a little while, despite the late-game drama, it appeared as though Ohio State had a chance to run away with it early on Wednesday night.
A pair of free throws from E.J. Liddell, a Justin Ahrens 3-pointer, a Kyle Young put-back dunk that included free throws and a Zed Key and-one opportunity put the Buckeyes ahead, 11-2, before a single stoppage in action. Before five minutes had even passed, they were up by 12 points, and they went back and forth between leads of between seven and 11 points before the Nittany Lions started to chip away at the advantage.
Led by 17 points from Seth Lundy – who hadn't scored more than 16 in a single game since Dec. 6 – they hung around and struck late in the opening half. Of course, they got some help from the Buckeyes who had the ball with 25 seconds left, an eight-point lead and a chance to take the last shot. Justice Sueing and Meechie Johnson both turned the ball over, leading to Penn State layups, and instead of potentially a double-digit halftime lead, the Buckeyes entered the break up, 43-39.
Neither team shot even 40 percent from the field in the first half. But in those opening 20 minutes, Ohio State held a 20-12 points-in-the-paint edge and Penn State had a 14-2 advantage on points off of turnovers.
Next up: Ohio State stays in Columbus to take on Michigan State on Sunday. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. and will be shown on CBS.
- Chris Holtmann stuck with the starting five he used the prior four games: Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young. CJ Walker came off the bench for the second game in a row after sitting out four games due to torn ligaments in his right hand.
- The Buckeyes had 11 of 13 scholarship players available to play. Jimmy Sotos (shoulder) and Ibrahima Diallo (sprained MCL) remained out of action. It remains unclear when they'll be back.