Ohio State 83, Penn State 79: Nittany Lions Drop Close Game in Columbus

By Dylan Burd on January 27, 2021 at 10:58 pm
Jan 27, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jamari Wheeler (5) is defended by Ohio State Buckeyes guard Meechie Johnson Jr. (0) during the first half at Value City Arena.
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
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Penn State’s two-game winning streak was snapped with an 83-79 loss to No. 13 Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus on Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions held an eight-point lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the game but ultimately were outscored by the Buckeyes 21-7 over the remainder of regulation.

  1st 2nd Final
PENN STATE 39 40 79
OHIO STATE 43 40 83

After each team went back-and-forth taking the lead in the final 3:30, Penn State guard Myreon Jones missed a floater that would have tied the game with three seconds left. Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell then hit two free throws after grabbing the rebound and drawing the foul to effectively seal the game.

Penn State forward Seth Lundy led all scorers in the game with 26 points on 7/16 from the field including 4/8 from 3. Additionally, Izaiah Brockington had 18 points while John Harrar added another double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). The Nittany Lions were without guard Sam Sessoms due to an ankle injury. Sessoms is averaging 10.3 points per game off the bench this season on 46.1% from the field, 40.0% from 3, and was a major loss for Penn State. The team sorely missed his scoring touch and his ability to provide instant offense.

For Ohio State, Liddell had 22 points and 7 rebounds, while forward Justice Sueing had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Buckeyes’ forward Zed Key had 11 points, and forward Kyle Young added 10 points of his own.

Ohio State dominated the beginning of the game, as they led 14-2 less than five minutes in. However, Penn State hung around, going on a 9-2 run to end the half, capped off by two Jamari Wheeler steals leading to baskets to cut Ohio State’s lead to four, 43-39. After an Ohio State three to open up the second half, Penn State then went on a 10-0 run to take a three-point lead with just over 15 minutes remaining – its first of the game. The Nittany Lions didn’t trail again until there were just over three minutes left in the game.

Penn State won the turnover battle, forcing Ohio State into 17 turnovers while committing just 11 of its own. The Nittany Lions also shot 47.4% from beyond the arc (9/19) compared to the Buckeyes who shot only 31.8% (7/22) from 3. That being said, Penn State only shot 44.1% from the field compared to Ohio State, which shot 51.9%. As per usual this season, the Nittany Lions were also out-rebounded 36-28. Ohio State also shot 20/21 from the free-throw line (95.2%), whereas Penn State shot 75% (18/24).

The loss moved Penn State to 5-7 on the season and 2-6 in Big Ten play, which places them 13th place in the conference.

Key Takeaways:

  • Penn State’s offense was stagnant early in the first half. There was a lot of passing around the 3-point line with minimal movement on offense. Jim Ferry made the right adjustment by forcing the ball inside to Harrar and into the paint in general. This led to a ton of open shots for the offense, more than Penn State has had in a very long time.
  • Speaking of Harrar, he got off to a slow start but ended up playing arguably his best game of the season, and the stats show it. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds, 6 of which were offensive. Every time Harrar left the floor, Penn State got destroyed.
  • Seth Lundy looked a lot like he did early in the season. When Lundy gets going, he can drop 20 in the blink of an eye. 
  • The theme of losing close games/blowing leads continued for Penn State. The Nittany Lions went into the day in ESPN Joe Lunardi’s First Four Out. With a win, they could have certainly put themselves into the NCAA Tournament conversation. Now, it’ll be a massive uphill battle as Penn State will likely need to go on a substantial winning steak to warrant consideration. That being said, expect Penn State to be ranked highly in all analytical systems like they have been year in and year out lately. Unfortunately, its record doesn’t reflect that. 
  • Despite this being a crushing loss and massive blown opportunity, Penn State may have found something on offense. The Lions came into Columbus on a two-game winning streak, but it seemed like they hadn’t truly found the offensive flow that they had early in the season. That felt like it came back a bit in the second half. Saturday is another huge opportunity, and winnable game if the Nittany Lions play like they did tonight.

The Nittany Lions will return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday to play the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers.

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