OSU tops State on hardwood

Ohio State brought new meaning to the term “triple threat” against Penn State at the Jordan Center Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes used a barrage of perfectly timed 3-pointers to beat back three second-half rallies by the Nittany Lions, and walked away with a 66-56 win.

“They made every big shot they needed to make,” said PSU coach Ed DeChellis, who saw his team fall to 7-16 overall and 1-9 in the Big Ten with its 10th loss in 11 games. “Give credit to them.”

Ohio State (17-8, 6-5) also deserved a hand for playing strong defense throughout, allowing the Lions to make only 21 of 70 shots and 2 of 18 3-pointers. So even though Penn State had more shot attempts (70 to 50), more rebounds (42-40) and fewer turnovers (7-13) than the visitors, it still dropped its sixth straight.

“That was a primary focus coming in,” first-year Buckeye coach Thad Matta said of his defense, which allowed Michigan State to make 51 percent of its attempts in an 83-69 loss in East Lansing Wednesday. “We had to get our defense back and challenge shots.”

That should have been the game plan for Penn State, which had its own issues at Purdue (a 77-50 loss) Wednesday. But, as has been the case all season, the Lion perimeter defense simply went brain dead at the most critical times.

Down 27-26 early in the second half, Penn State missed three chances to take the lead before OSU's Je'Kel Foster hit a bomb from the right corner.

PSU freshman forward Geary Claxton later hit back to back shots to draw the Lions within 32-30. Then Buckeyes J.J. Sullinger and Matt Sylvester wrapped triples around another Claxton bucket to make it 38-32.

State's Danny Morrissey was good on a pair of free throws a few minutes later to make it 42-40. But Foster and Tony Stockman hit from deep to knock the starch out of the Lions for good.

In all, Ohio State went 7 of 12 from the arc in the second half. Six Buckeyes made at least one triple each in the game. None of which should have come as a surprise to PSU. Earlier this season, Ohio State made a Big Ten record 18 3-pointers against LSU. It had 17 and 15 in two other games.

“And [the breakdowns] just occurred at crucial times,” DeChellis said. “We gave them the open threes, and they made 'em.”

Meanwhile, it was the same old story for Penn State on the offensive end. After making 28 percent of their shots at Purdue, the Lions weren't much better this time out. Guards Ben Luber (3 of 13), Mike Walker (0 of 5) and Morrissey (1 of 9) were a combined 4 of 27 from the floor.

“We're taking good shots,” said Luber, who is 9 of 44 in his last six games. “They just aren't falling.”

“We just couldn't make a basket,” added DeChellis in what has become a familiar post-game refrain. “We only make 2 of 18 threes. It's tough to pull points out of that. … When you look at our guards' number tonight, it's not very good.”

Nothing much about the Nittany Lions looks very good these days. As for the Buckeyes, though they have imposed a postseason ban on themselves for issues under former coach Jim O'Brien, they've now won five of six and appear to be headed for a 20-win season.

“I thought our guys were active tonight,” Matta said.

Active and accurate, to be more precise.

SHORT SHOTS

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Claxton paced Penn State with 14 points and a dozen rebounds, nine of the boards coming on the offensive end. Junior forward Travis Parker had a double-double, too, with 14 and 10. Aaron Johnson just missed getting his own double-double, with 10 points and nine rebounds.

ED SAID: “They're down. It's not easy, doing what we're trying to go through and trying to practice hard every day. You go out here, give a good effort and have a chance, and nothing happens for us. But we've got to go make it happen. We've got to make big shots and we can't have a defensive breakdown when the game is on the line.”

QUOTABLE: “We think we can win, but we've got to think that in game situations. It's good to think that in practice and all that. But it's different in the game.” - Parker.

KEY STAT: Penn State had 20 offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points.

PERSONNEL: Luber had two assists vs. 13 shots (three makes) in 34 minutes. Whether it is Luber or Walker, the PSU offense will not click until someone embraces the role of play-maker at the point.

NEXT UP: Penn State plays host to No. 1 Illinois Wednesday. It will be the Lions' first home game vs. No. 1 since falling to Indiana (88-84) in double-overtime at Rec Hall in 1993.

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