MBB Notebook: Quick Turnaround For OSU

Newly named No. 1 Ohio State looks to maintain its grip on the ranking and clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title tonight with a road contest against Penn State. Get all the latest in this notebook.

For the second time in nine days, Ohio State will have to deal with a 48-hour turnaround between Big Ten games. This time, however, the second game will be away from the friendly confines of Value City Arena.

After earning a lopsided victory in a Sunday contest against Indiana that tipped at 4 p.m., the Buckeyes now head to Penn State for a 9 p.m. contest. For most road trips, OSU arrives a day early to get in some extra shooting on the opponent's court. This time, the plan was to not leave until the morning of the game.

"We don't' play until 9 o'clock," he said. "(There's) nothing worse than waking up at 8 o'clock saying, ‘We've got 13 hours until tip-off.' "

The Buckeyes experienced the same type of turnaround one week ago. After suffering a Feb. 20 road loss to Purdue that began at 2 p.m., OSU hosted Illinois on Feb. 22 for a game that began at 7 p.m. That would become a 19-point victory for the home team.

In the one day between games, Matta said the plan was for the Buckeyes to hold a low-tempo practice.

"We'll be relatively light," the coach said after Sunday's game. "A lot of film (Monday). We'll always go through our shooting routines that we do. I don't know just how much we'll do yet."

Senior forward David Lighty said the players had an idea of what to do to recover in time to play another game in such a short period of time.

"Go to sleep," he said. "Get some rest. Stay off your legs. Hopefully get a ride around campus going to class. Just be smart and hydrate as much as possible."

Title At Stake: One day after again ascending to the top spot in the national rankings, the Buckeyes have a chance to clinch a piece of hardware tonight. With a one-game lead on Purdue in the Big Ten standings, a victory against the Nittany Lions would clinch at least a share of the regular-season conference crown for OSU.

Asked what he felt was at stake for the Buckeyes this week, Lighty said, "Penn State, losing to them is at stake. If we slip up and lose it's not a good thing for us. Just getting focused and being ready to listen to what the coaches have to say. Everyone knows how it is in the Big Ten. Every year I've played there it's been a close game, pretty much. They're going to be looking to beat us. We've got to make plays when we need them."

Meanwhile, PSU will be playing for a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. At 15-12 overall and 8-8 in conference play, the Nittany Lions are not projected to be selected for the tournament in ESPN's latest bracketology update.

"It's an opportunity for us to continue to build our case for the NCAA Tournament," PSU head coach Ed DeChellis said. "We've got our own motivation. It doesn't matter who comes in (Tuesday) night, it's a very important game for us. I've never worried about rankings – I just think we need to win. We need to win the game and try to get the next game."

Lighty said he does not feel that PSU's dim tournament hopes will have much of an impact on the game.

"It's tough playing everywhere in the Big Ten," he said. "Everyone brings their ‘A' game. Especially us being at the top of the Big Ten everyone wants to knock you off. They're going to try to play even harder."

Should Purdue slip up at home against Illinois (7 p.m., ESPN), the Buckeyes could clinch the title outright with a win tonight.

Lighty's Wrist: When he came in for interviews following the Indiana win, Lighty brought a bag of ice that accompanied his left (non-shooting) wrist. Asked about it, the fifth-year senior said he injured it more than a month ago.

"It's been messed up for a month now since we played Purdue at home," he said. "It's getting better."

Last Time: When OSU hosted the Nittany Lions on Jan. 15, it took some superb defense from freshman point guard Aaron Craft on PSU senior Talor Battle in the final seconds to help the Buckeyes clinch the 69-66 victory.

Although OSU has won 14 straight games against the Nittany Lions, close games have been the norm between these two teams. Only four of the Buckeyes' wins during that stretch have been by more than 10 points.

"Obviously with Talor Battle one of the best guards in the league with the game here it's going to be a tremendous challenge for us," Matta said. "They've got a lot of guys who can really shoot the basketball. They change defenses."

The Nittany Lions also are likely to hold the ball on the offensive end in an effort to limit OSU's chances. Asked how his team can combat that tactic, Matta said, "It's maintaining the intensity if they're going to do that for the entire possession because they hit some late on the shot clock. We've got to make sure we keep that intensity that every possession has got to be there."

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