Return To Rock Bottom, Buckeyes Lose To PSU

If a loss to Penn State in January was the low point for Ohio State this season, it's hard to tell where the Buckeyes sit now. OSU dropped its second game in as many contests with the Nittany Lions on Thursday, losing a 65-63 contest in Happy Valley.

One month ago, an exasperated Lenzelle Smith Jr. took the postgame podium, befuddled that his Ohio State team had just lost to Penn State.

One can only imagine what the Buckeyes senior guard is feeling now.

Smith missed two three-point shots in the final 10 seconds of Thursday's rematch, which saw the Nittany Lions beat Ohio State for the second time in as many games this season with a 65-63 upset in Happy Valley. Either one of Smith's shots could have saved the No. 22 Buckeyes (22-7, 9-7) from another embarrassing loss to Penn State (14-14, 5-10), who entered Thursday's tipoff in last place in the Big Ten standings.

Nittany Lions guard D.J. Newbill again proved to be a thorn in the side of Ohio State, with the junior guard scoring a game-high 23 points against the Buckeyes. Trailing by six points fewer than two minutes into in the second half, Penn State reeled off a 20-9 run, taking a 47-42 lead with nine minutes to go in the game.

When all was said and done, the Nittany Lions led the Buckeyes for the game's final 11 minutes of action.

Despite holding a lengthy advantage, Penn State never managed to stretch its lead to more than five points, which led to some sweaty palms inside of the Bryce Jordan Center.

With OSU trailing by a 64-59 mark with 32 ticks left on the clock, Buckeyes forward LaQuinton Ross connected on a pair of free throws before Shannon Scott stole an ensuing inbounds pass and found Trey McDonald for a layup to cut the Nittany Lions' advantage to one. After Ross Travis missed a pair of PSU free throws, Ohio State had a chance to take the lead with 20 seconds remaining, but Smith's three-point jumper with 10 ticks left was off the mark.

Smith had another chance at redemption after Tim Frazier split a pair of free throws, but again missed a three-pointer as time ran out on the Buckeyes. With that, Ohio State officially eliminated itself from the Big Ten title hunt, dropping back to fifth place in the league standings.

Ross led the Buckeyes with 19 points against Penn State, but was only joined in double-digit scoring by Craft (10 points), who battled foul trouble for the better part of the game. Newbill, meanwhile, was aided by 16 points from Frazier, as the Nittany Lions benefitted from a 44.2 percent (19 of 43) success rate from the field.

The first half saw a different story than the second, with the Buckeyes racing out to a 10-2 lead and stretching their advantage to nine points on a Sam Thompson three with 13:35 remaining on the clock. Ohio State pushed its advantage to a 22-11 lead with 8:54 left in the half on an Amir Williams layup, before a 15-6 Penn State run led to the Buckeyes taking a 28-26 lead into halftime.

Opening the second half on a 5-0 run, Ohio State appeared to regain control of the game, but it was Penn State who had the last laugh -- again.

Now fighting for a bye in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes will look to bounce back during a Sunday trip to Bloomington to face Indiana before ending the regular season on March 9 with a home date against Michigan State.

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