Nobody could remember the last time that happened.
But in Wednesday night's rematch, Tony Stockman wasted no time in showing the Buckeyes could drain the three. He hit one 36 seconds into the game and then made four more in the first 14 minutes.
OSU ultimately rode Stockman's sharp shooting -- he ended up with 25 points on 7 of 13 shooting from behind the three-point arc -- to a 71-64 win over the Nittany Lions before 13,869 at Value City Arena.
"It was real good to see Tony start the game and make some shots," O'Brien said. "We played much better offensively in this game than we did the last time we played them."
The victory puts OSU (14-14, 6-9 Big Ten) in position for a chance at postseason play, although the Buckeyes may need a win in Sunday's regular season finale against No. 18 Illinois to get there. The Illini (21-5, 12-3) wrapped up at least a share of the Big Ten championship with an overtime win at Purdue Wednesday night. They will play for an outright conference crown on Sunday at VCA.
"We don't care too much about their status," O'Brien said. "We care more about what's at stake for us. It is a real good opportunity for us. If we can win another game, we would give ourselves a chance to play in the postseason. I think that would be good for this team. I would like an opportunity to extend our season. I think it would be very good for this team to keep playing games right now."
Ohio State led by as many as 16 points early in the second half before having to hold off a late rally by the Lions (9-17, 3-12).
Penn State got the lead down to three at 67-64 with 24.1 seconds left on a three-pointer by Marlon Smith, who finished with 26 points. But OSU's J.J. Sullinger, who added 16 points, made a pair of free throws with 18.5 seconds left.
Then, OSU's Brandon Fuss-Cheatham stripped the ball away from PSU's Ben Luber and got it upcourt to Velimir Radinovic, whose breakaway jam with 4.9 seconds left cinched it.
Fuss-Cheatham added 11 points for OSU, while Radinovic ended up with 10.
Smith was 10 of 17 from the floor, including 6 of 8 on three-pointers, to lead the Lions. Aaron Johnson and Jan Jagla each had 12 points and Luber had 10 for PSU, which dropped its ninth straight game.
Although Penn State ended up 10 of 14 (71.4 percent) from behind the three-point arc, it was OSU's 9-of-20 showing from behind the arc (45 percent) that may have been the difference.
"They surprised us with their three-point shooting," said PSU coach Ed DeChellis. "Everybody knows Stockman can shoot the ball. We didn't do a good job of finding him. I don't know why. We talked about him for two days."
Stockman scored the first 10 points of the game, hitting three three-pointers and a free throw in the first four minutes.
"They were covering our big men and leaving the wings open," Stockman said. "We thought we might get some open shots. I hit the first one and I was just getting open. After I hit the first one, I just got into a rhythm."
Penn State did not score until Smith hit a three with 15:09 left in the half. OSU then forged ahead 16-3 after back-to-back treys by Brandon Fuss-Cheatham and Ricardo Billings. The Buckeyes still led 25-12 after J.J. Sullinger hit a jumper in the lane with 8:31 left in the half.
Penn State's Jagla and Smith made back-to-back three-pointers to cut the OSU lead down to 25-18 with 6:46 left in the first half. OSU answered with a three-pointer by Stockman and a jumper in the lane by Nick Dials to go up 30-18 with 5:32 left in the first half.
PSU rallied with seven straight points, including a three-pointer by Ben Luber to cut the lead to 30-25. But Fuss-Cheatham made a pair of free throws with 1:05 left and Sullinger made 1 of 2 with no time on the clock to give the Buckeyes a 35-27 advantage.
OSU opened the second half on a 12-4 run, which included two steals for layups by Fuss-Cheatham, and went up 47-31 with 14:58 left in the game.
The Buckeyes still led 61-47 after Stockman splashed a three off a pass from Terence Dials with 7:14 left.
But the OSU offense then went into lockdown mode, mustering just one field goal over the next 5-½ minutes. The drought allowed Penn State, powered by eight points from Smith, to cut the gap to 63-59 with 2:10 left.
OSU answered as Fuss-Cheatham fed Radinovic for a drop step and jam, putting OSU up 65-59 with 1:39 left. Luber answered with a 16-footer for Penn State, cutting the lead to 65-61 with 1:23 left.
But Fuss-Cheatham came up big again, driving through traffic for a layup and a 67-61 lead with 53.9 seconds left. The teams traded scoreless possessions before PSU's Smith whacked a three in transition to cut the lead to 67-64 with 24.1 seconds left.
But that is when Sullinger -- a 50.5 percent shooter at the line -- stood tall at the line and made both ends of his one-and-one with 18.5 seconds left.
"We have been practicing free throws a lot," Sullinger said. "Coach has been putting more pressure on us and if we miss them we're going to run. I knew if I missed it I'd have to run. I just knocked them down."
Radinovic also came up with his second jam in the final two minutes to close out PSU, nearly losing his pants as he extended on the slam with 4.9 seconds left.
"It felt good to win," Radinovic said. "I don't care about scoring and all of that. It was nice to put it away like that. We definitely needed that."
* OSU improved to 15-13 all-time against PSU, including 10-4 in Columbus.
* OSU guard Nick Dials returned to action after missing the last seven games due to a wrist injury. He played 16 minutes, made his only shot and dished out three assists.
"He made a jumper against their zone," O'Brien said of Dials. "He came off a screen and got one to roll in for him. He doesn't have any turnovers. He plays hard. He's rusty. But he's another guy we can get into the rotation in the backcourt. I thought Nick was fine. He probably played more minutes than I thought he was going to play."
* The Buckeyes wrap up the regular season Sunday against No. 18 Illinois. The 4 p.m. game will be televised nationally by CBS.
The Illini routed OSU 85-63 in the first meeting Jan. 7 in Champaign.
"It is good to finish the regular season at home," said Radinovic, a senior who will make his final regular season appearance at VCA. "We still remember playing there the first game of the season so we want to come out and play tough. If we want to have any postseason aspirations, we've got to win this game."
* OSU is now 8-6 this season at VCA and 77-19 as the sixth season in the building winds down.
* The Buckeyes shot 53.1 percent from the floor to improve to 9-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better.
* This was PSU's best showing -- by margin -- on the road in the Big Ten. The Lions had lost their previous six Big Ten road games by an average margin of 23 points. It was also PSU's 23rd straight road loss in the conference.