Final: Ohio State 76, Penn State 64

By Vincent Lungaro on December 5, 2021 at 10:48 pm
Dec 5, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Seth Lundy (1) dribbles the ball around the outside of Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) during the first half at Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday evening started brightly enough for Penn State as the Nittany Lions raced out to an early 12-5 lead over Ohio State in front of an energetic BJC crowd. The quality and depth of the soon-to-be-ranked Buckeyes proved telling, though, as the away side pulled away to claim a 76-64 Big Ten opening win. 

Former Nittany Lion Jamari Wheeler was everywhere for Ohio State (6-2, 1-0), finishing 9 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. 

Wheeler was greeted with boos and chants of "traitor" as he took the floor for warmups. The boos continued most of the game, but it was the ex-Penn State point guard who went home happier. 

He clearly reveled his Happy Valley return, exchanging some words with the student section and jawing with the Nittany Lions bench after a couple of buckets in the first half. 

Thanks to an aggressive start from Seth Lundy, the Nittany Lions forced an early timeout from head coach Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes before the under-16 timeout could even take place. 

Things flipped in Ohio State's favor from that point forward in large part because of three-point shooting. Back-to-back triples from Kyle Young and Cedric Russell gave the Buckeyes a 27-19 lead at the 9:57 mark of the first half. Ohio State hit seven threes in the first half and 12 for the game. 

The hot shooting continued to open up the second frame as the Buckeyes blew the game open with an 11-4 run to make it 52-34. 

The Nittany Lions (4-4, 0-1) went on a late run to close the gap to six with 2:39 to go, only to see a Kyle Ahrens triple halt the home team's momentum and help send Ohio State to 1-0 in the Big Ten. 

Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Lundy finished with 13 points but also turned the ball over four times. The turnover struggles were once again a factor for the Nittany Lions, as they recorded 15 giveaways.

John Harrar finished with another double (12 points and 12 rebounds), but his foul trouble in the first half paved the way for the Buckeyes run. The Nittany Lions are clearly a different team with him on the floor. 

Kyle Young led the Buckeyes with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Preseason All-Big Ten pick EJ Liddell overcame a quiet first half to finish with 14 points and 5 rebounds. 

Malaki Branham was a surprising bright spot for the Buckeyes. He came into the game averaging just a shade over 6 points per game, but finished with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. 

This result wasn't all that surprising given the gulf between the two rosters at the present time and the Buckeyes fresh off an upset win over then-No. 1 Duke. It will no doubt still sting a little for Penn State fans to see Wheeler return and play well in an Ohio State route. 

The Nittany Lions will have to regroup quickly as they welcome Wagner to the BJC on Wednesday before returning to Big Ten action next Saturday at No. 22 Michigan State.