|1st half||2nd half||Final|
Tony Carr capped a dominant second-half with a 40-foot buzzer-beating bank shot to hand Ohio State their first conference loss of the season in an 82-79 thriller at Value City Arena on Thursday night. Penn State's upset of the No. 13 team in the country gives them their first win over a ranked opponent in 2018 and a potential springboard to save what has so far been a nightmarish season for Penn State and Pat Chambers.
The miracle shot saved face for the Nittany Lions and stopped an Ohio State comeback led by the flu-ridden Keita Bates-Diop, who hit three triples in the last two minutes, including the game-tying shot from NBA-range. The front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year to this point, KBD scored 25 points on 13 shots. Carr, however, was a stone cold killer in the second half. He scored 20 of his 28 after the break, committed zero turnovers, and missed only two of his nine field goal attempts. After the least efficient month of his career to date, the Young Pope returned to grace in Columbus with style.
Penn State's start was nearly too good to be true. The Nittany Lions started 5-5 from beyond the arc and led by as many as 14 points just five minutes into the game. Shep Garner led the first half charge with three triples. Rarely has hot shooting lasted the whole game for PSU, but everyone was getting in on the action in Columbus. The Lions shot 11-14 from deep and 58.3% from the field on the night.
Even Deivis Zemgulis hit a big triple in his first start of the season to pile on the Buckeyes. Chambers mentioned in the postgame that he needed to get the Lithuanian minutes after his strong performances in practice. Zemgulis will be getting more after posting five efficient points and a team-best +13 in 14 minutes.
The return of Josh Reaves from academic suspension cannot be overlooked, either. Reaves, who became eligible on Thursday morning, was reportedly driven to the arena separately after the team plane had departed and joined the team in shootaround. He injected energy and hustle into a Penn State team that was sorely missing both in his absence. The Nittany Lions are a different team with Reaves in the rotation - they stand a chance to get to a postseason with him back in the lineup.
Ohio State was in foul trouble for most of the night, and it bit them hard. Penn State was in the double bonus early in the second half and attempted more free throws than their opponent on the road. Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate played much of the second half in foul trouble, limiting their minutes down the stretch.
Penn State (14-8, 4-5) has a short turnaround home date with Rutgers on Saturday. This team surely remembers handing the Scarlet Knights their first-ever Big Ten road win last season, and nothing less than full focus will be necessary to beat Steve Pikiell's disciplined defensive team. More on Rutgers shortly.