Ohio State Squanders Double-Digit Lead, Gets Bounced From Big Ten Tournament By Penn State, 71-68

A year after making an improbable run to the championship game in the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes have been bounced in their postseason opener.

Ohio State’s 2-0 regular season record against Penn State meant little on Thursday night, as the 11th-seeded Nittany Lions engineered a second-half comeback to spring the upset, 71-68, to advance to the tournament quarterfinals for a matchup against No 3-seed Purdue.

Team

1

2

FINAL

#6 OHIO STATE

33

35

68

#11 PENN STATE 24 47 75

The Nittany Lions didn’t lead until the final six minutes of the game, when Seth Lundy knocked down a 3-pointer to give Penn State a two-point lead with 5:57 to play. Thirteen minutes earlier, Ohio State led by 11 points, but watched that advantage slip away thereafter.

The Buckeyes went ice cold during a costly stretch late, failing to hit a field goal for more than six minutes while Penn State came roaring back to tie things up before taking the lead.

Ohio State cut the Penn State lead to two points multiple times in the waning minutes, but couldn’t overcome a deficit that grew to five points in the final 30 seconds.

EJ Liddell had 25 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Buckeyes afloat in the conference tournament.

First Half

The Buckeyes shot 12.3 percent better than Penn State from the field and were 30.6 percent more accurate from 3-point range in the first half to take a 33-24 advantage to the locker room after 20 minutes.

Malaki Branham appeared to turn his ankle on a shot attempt early in the half, and came out of the game to work on a stationary bike with trainers behind the bench after limping on a couple trips up and down the court. Branham checked back in at the media timeout at 2:46 p.m., though, at which point Ohio State had mounted an early 5-2 lead.

Liddell scored 10 of Ohio State’s first 15 points, knocking down two 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and changing as the Buckeyes got out to an 11-point lead with 11:29 to play in the opening half.

But from 9:26 to 3:18, Penn State went on a 14-6 run to cut into the Buckeye lead, as a 3-pointer from Jalen Pickett made it a 26-21 ballgame down the stretch of the first half. Ohio State kept the Nittany Lions at bay from there, scoring seven of the final 10 points of the half to take a nine-point lead to halftime.

Liddell led the way with 12 points in the period for Ohio State, while Branham and Brunk each added six apiece.

Despite Ohio State’s shooting edge early, Penn State’s bench outscored the Buckeyes’ own by eight points and doubled Ohio State in points in the paint.

OHIO STATE

STAT

PENN STATE

68

POINTS

71

23-52 (44.2%)

FGM-FGA (PCT.)

25-54 (46.3%)

7-18 (38.9%)

3PM-3PA (pct.)

6-19 (31.6%)

15-17 (88.2%)

FTM-FTA (PCT.)

15-20 (75%)

8

TURNOVERS

6

28

TOTAL REBOUNDS

29

6

OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS

6

22

DEFENSIVE REBOUNDS

23

9

BENCH POINTS

32

4

BLOCKS

0

4

STEALS

6

11

ASSISTANTS

10

Second Half

Branham gave the Buckeyes their first double-digit lead of the game just 1:11 into the second half, drawing fouls on back-to-back touches on the same possession to put Ohio State ahead, 37-26, at the 18:49 mark.

But in the next three minutes, the Nittany Lions chipped away with a 10-2 run to come within three points of the Buckeyes at the 16:03 mark. Four different Penn State players scored during that stretch, which made it a 39-36 ballgame.

The Ohio State backcourt came alive after that as Branham, Cedric Russell and Jamari Wheeler all hit shots to put the Buckeyes back up by nine points before the under 12-minute media timeout.

By the eight-minute mark, Penn State had made another push after hitting three straight shots to make it a three-point game at the end of a 6-0 run. The Buckeyes were held without any points for more than three minutes while the Nittany Lions ate into the deficit.

Amid has six-plus-minute stretch of no field goals for Ohio State, Penn State tied things up 53-all on a Myles Dread 3-pointer with 6:35 to play. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the game at the 5:57 mark when Seth Lundy knocked down the second three in a row for Penn State.

Branham hit a layup to cut the Penn State lead to two points with 1:55 to play, but a putback layup by Nittany Lion big man John Harrar kept Penn State up four points with 1:23 to go.

Sessoms led the way with 18 points for Penn State.

What’s Next

Ohio State awaits word from the selection committee on Sunday to determine its seeding and first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.

Game Notes

  • Kyle Young missed his third straight game for Ohio State while in concussion protocol.

  • Zed Key was listed as a game-time decision for the Buckeyes before tip, but did not play.

  • Ohio State was 2-0 against the Nittany Lions in the regular season, defeating Penn State 76-64 in the first meeting in December, and 61-56 in the rematch in January.

  • The Buckeyes had won each of their four previous meetings in a row against the Nittany Lions.

  • Ohio State held a 14-6 record in its opening round Big Ten Tournament matchups before Thursday.

  • Jamari Wheeler took on his former team for the third time Thursday, as the grad transfer and Buckeye guard spent the past four seasons on the Penn State roster before 2021-22.

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