Penn State-Ohio State Hoops Preview: Lions Ride 2-game Winning Streak into Columbus

By Brad Peterson on January 26, 2021 at 12:56 pm
Ohio State Buckeyes forward Justin Ahrens (10) celebrates a three pointer with guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) during the second half of the men's basketball game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Value City Arena in Columbus on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Purdue won 67-65.
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch
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Ohio State Buckeyes
12-4 (6-4 B1G)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7:00 p.m. EST – Wednesday, Jan. 27
Schottenstein Center 
Columbus, OH
Watch Info: Big Ten Network
KenPom Rank: 12

The Nittany Lions (5-6, 2-5, #39 NET) will look to build on the momentum of their two-game winning streak as they head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes.

On Saturday night, the blue and white held off Northwestern 81-78 to pick up their 2nd conference win after starting league play 0-5. Izaiah Brockington paced the Lions with 21 points, including a perfect 9-9 from the foul line, with the last two freebies icing the game with seven seconds to play. After leading by five at the break, the Wildcats stormed back behind some torrid shooting to take a 73-69 lead with just over four minutes to play. The Lions used a 10-0 run of their own to take back the lead 79-73 and stepped up their defensive pressure, limiting Northwestern to just one more field goal in the final four minutes. Seth Lundy, Myreon Jones, and Sam Sessoms joined Brockington in double-figure scoring with 16, 15, and 12 respectively. John Harrar added a game-high 10 rebounds. The Senior center has had double figures in rebounding four of the last five games and is 6th in conference play in rebounding at 8.2 per game.

Ohio State (12-4, 6-4, #17 NET) has won four of their last 5 including a 74-62 wire-to-wire win at Wisconsin Saturday, the Buckeyes' third-straight road win over a top-15 ranked opponent. E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 20 points on 7-12 shooting. Seth Towns chipped in 10 points. OSU got a boost from the return of CJ Walker, who missed four games with a right hand injury. Walker had 8 points and 3 assists off the bench.

In the 2019-20 season, the two teams split their two games, with Chris Holtman’s Buckeyes breaking the century mark in a 106-74 thrashing of the Lions behind a combined 43 points by the Wesson brothers, Kaleb and Andre. Brockington led Penn State with 19 points in the loss. In the rematch at the BJC, Lamar Stevens’ 24 points helped exact revenge for the Lions in a 90-76 victory, with Myreon Jones chipping in 20 points.

Projected Starters
Penn State Ohio State
G Jamari Wheeler - 6'1" - Sr. G CJ Walker - 6'1" - Sr.
G Myreon Jones - 6'3" - Jr. G Duane Washington - 6'3" - Jr.
G Izaiah Brockington - 6'4" - Jr. F Justin Sueing - 6'7" - Jr.
F Seth Lundy - 6'6" - So. F Kyle Young - 6'8" - Sr.
F John Harrar - 6'9" -  Sr. F EJ Liddell - 6'7" - So.

Scouting Report

Ohio State is led by Duane Washington, Jr., who averages 15.3 PPG, good for 9th in the conference, despite scoring only 9 points on 1-9 shooting in the win over the Badgers. Washington is the best deep threat behind the arc, hitting at a .385 rate. The Junior guard is far from a standstill shooter as he will put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop.

Sophomore big man Liddell will be a handful for the Lions. He averages 14.5 PPG, 2nd on the team, and 6.8 RPG. He has stepped up his scoring, posting 19 PPG in the last three games for the Buckeyes. He has decent range out to 12-15 feet but can bang inside. Another in a long line of talented B1G big men to challenge PSU’s interior defense.

Junior Forward Justice Sueing may be the most versatile player for the Buckeyes, averaging 10.4 PPG and 5 RPG. Sueing is an athletic wing with the size, 6’7”, to get to the rim and the touch to hit midrange jumpers. He isn’t a threat from behind the arc, hitting only 26% from deep.

Kyle Young is a glue guy who, at 6’8”, will rebound ferociously at both ends of the floor, play tough D, and pitch in 7.5 ppg.

Justin Ahrens is the marksman of the team. He only scores 6.8 PPG but hits on over 50% from behind the arc. 67 of his 69 FG attempts have been 3s, so defenders will need to be on his shoes when he spots up.

Keys to the Game

  • Stay hot from behind the arc. Ohio State gives up 7 3s per game and allows opponents to shoot 35% from deep. The Lions' shooters will need to hit their average of 9, or more, to keep this close. A healthy Myles Dread back in uniform would help.
  • Control the boards. Both teams hold a rebounding advantage over their opponents. The team that controls the boards may own the scoreboard in this one. Harrar will need to continue hitting the boards and the whole team needs to limit second-chance opportunities for the Buckeyes.
  • Limit fouling. In the last two games, the Nittany Lions have cut down on fouling, totaling just 26 fouls in the two games. They've still been able to maintain their defensive pressure while doing so and the result has been two wins. If PSU reverts back to its old ways and sends the Buckeyes to the line, especially Washington and Walker, it will be a long night. Washington shoots 89% from the charity stripe and Walker leads the conference and is 2nd in the NCAA at 97.8% from the line. As a team, OSU averages 17 made FTs per game, so playing good D without fouling will be critical.

Prediction

Ohio State owns a 39-19 advantage over the Lions in a series that began in 1950. The teams have a history of closely contested games. This season, OSU is 7-1 at home and the Lions are just 1-4 on the road. If Penn State’s D can force turnovers and get hot from deep, the blue and white could steal one in Columbus. Unfortunately, Chris Holtman will have the Buckeyes ready to play and they won’t be overlooking the Lions.

Ohio State 80, Penn State 71

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