2011 Ohio State Basketball
Ohio State Buckeyes vs Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Recap
Ohio State 69, Penn State 66
The Penn State Nittany Lions won fresh respect and admiration throughout the Big Ten and in the nationwide college basketball community on Saturday evening in Columbus, Ohio.
They simply weren’t able to win, however, against the best team in their conference.
In a game that added luster to the loser more than the winner, the Ohio State Buckeyes were nevertheless able to remain atop the Big Ten. Penn State might have exceeded everyone’s expectations on what was predicted to be a low-drama day at Value City Arena, but in the end, the No. 2 team in the country punched its ticket to the No. 1 spot in next week’s rankings.
This game owned a fairly normal feel and flow through the first 30 minutes of competition. A bucket by Ohio State’s David Lighty with 9:59 left in regulation gave the Bucks a 55-47 lead with the stretch run in sight. The Buckeyes weren’t administering a beatdown, but they held an appreciable working margin and looked to be getting ready to pull away from the plucky Nittany Lions, coached by Ed DeChellis. Penn State had just won back-to-back home games against Michigan State and Illinois to surprisingly move to 3-2 in the Big Ten, so when this daunting road date at Ohio State arrived, most pundits figured that the visitors from Happy Valley would meekly submit to the power, balance and savvy of a seasoned OSU crew led by coach Thad Matta. An eight-point deficit midway through the second half was far from insurmountable, but the odds favored an Ohio State pull-away in the final 10 minutes. Instead, the Nittany Nation rallied and made the Buckeyes sweat profusely.
Penn State hitched up its shorts, dug in its heels, and defended the bejeezus out of the basketball as this game careened toward its conclusion. After falling behind by eight points, PSU limited Ohio State to just four points over the next seven minutes and 20 seconds to take a 61-60 lead with 2:39 left. The wins over Michigan State and Illinois were shocking enough, but a road win at Ohio State – good enough for a 4-2 Big Ten mark – would have put Penn State in the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation. A revolting development was on the verge of occurring in the world of college basketball.
Then, Ohio State’s main man took center stage.
One year ago, point-forward Evan Turner became the epicenter of the Buckeyes’ offense, dictating 40 minutes of action from the top of the key. This year, OSU’s offense flows through the low block, as Jared Sullinger has become a beast near the tin. With the score tied at 66 and the clock winding its way inside the 20-second mark, Sullinger took a post-entry feed on the left block and spun to the middle of the lane. A smooth and decisive move produced a half-hook score and a foul. Sullinger hit the ensuing and-one foul shot to give his team a three-point edge with 14 seconds to go, and when Penn State star Talor Battle missed a tying three with two seconds left, the Buckeyes survived, denying Penn State a win that could have radically transformed the composition of the Big Ten.
Penn State won respect on Saturday. The next step for the Nittany Lions is to win these get-over-the-hump kinds of games.
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