If I were a Penn State fan, this is the kind of headline that would age me. Luckily, I'm not a Penn State fan, so cheers to being young!
Ohio State entered this contest with a 12 game winning streak against the Nittany Lions. With a win Wednesday night, Ohio State would push that number to 13 and own the Big Ten's longest win streak for one team over another conference opponent. Dozens of Penn State fans came out to the Bryce Jordan Center Arena to support their team and prevent this from happening. Let's jump into our review!
Your lack of energy is visible...
It's hard to say why Ohio State seemed sluggish at the beginning of the game. Some people might say that when the Buckeyes looked across the court, they didn't see much to be afraid of in the opposition. Of course, those people would be wrong. Penn State, although at the bottom of the conference standings, is a feisty team that battles hard every game. Others might say that the previous week wore on the Buckeyes emotionally; that playing the three other "contenders" at the top of the conference in a one week span drained their energy. Those people are probably correct.
Penn State played Ohio State pretty even in the first half. 10 minutes into the game, the Nittany Lions had a 15-14 lead. Evan Turner continued his recent trend of struggling in the first half (shooting the ball), but solid play from David Lighty and William Buford kept the Buckeyes in it. After trading buckets and playing proverbial hot potato with the lead, the Buckeyes went into halftime with a 30-26 advantage.
That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh!Ohio State came out in the second half with much better energy, and it showed on the court. In an unbelievable stretch that lasted 6 minutes, the Buckeyes went on a 19-6 run. John Diebler caught fire and made two 3's the new fashion way (I'm assuming that hitting a three pointer is the new fashion way of getting 3 points because the old fashion way is by getting fouled on a layup and then making the free throw). Evan Turner finally/inevitably found his scoring touch while locking down Penn State's best player (Talor Battle) on defense. David Lighty continued his brilliant play from the first half and built upon one of his better performances of the season as well.
The run embodied everything that's good about Ohio State basketball and everything that's bad about Penn State basketball. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last. Those are some pesky kittens...It's something I will never understand. When Team A has a big lead on Team B, Team A decides that they've won the game and lose focus. Team B comes back and closes the margin on Team A, and Team A starts acting like someone just woke them up out of a dead sleep by throwing water on their crotch.Now, this is coming from a guy who's never played organized basketball before on any level, unless you count the pickup games I play on Tuesday and Thursday night's against the old guys at my gym. And in case you were wondering, I'm like the Evan Turner of those pick up games. It's just frustrating as a fan to see your team get complacent with nobody doing anything to stop it. If you're a coach, call the timeout. If you're a team leader, rally the troops. If you're one of the role players, hustle. Do anything. Just don't get lazy. If you don't know where this is heading, then... keep reading. Penn State rallied during a 9 minute stretch and nearly erased the Buckeyes 17 point lead. With just over 5 minutes to play, David Jackson went all Joe Paterno on us and got three points the old fashion way. When Talor Battle and another random Penn State player hopped on Jackson to celebrate, I imagined John Diebler just shaking his head, thinking about how 'behind the times' these guys were. With a 59-57 lead, Ohio State needed a lift of energy from someone to close out the game. And if you don't know where this is heading, well then you just haven't been paying attention at all, have you?Clutch: where Evan Turner happens...In the latest chapter of, "Evan Turner is the Best Basketball Player in the Country, Seriously, How Are We Still Talking About This?", our super hero decided to take over the game by himself. Turner went on an 8-2 run against the Nittany Lions and closed out the game scoring 10 of Ohio State's last 14 points. The Buckeyes played tight defense down the stretch and came out with a 75-67 victory.Despite his marginal first half where he only scored five points, Turner finished the game with 25 to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists. Oh, and don't forget to throw in his three steals and two blocks. With a lot of experts looking at John Wall and Evan Turner as the front runners for this years "National Player of the Year" honor, I wanted to take a quick look and evaluate their play. Evan Turner averages three more points a game (19.7) than John Wall (16.8). Turner out-rebounds Wall by five a game, and the two players are basically a push for assists and steals per game. Turner is shooting 54% on field goal attempts for the season; John Wall is shooting 46%. You know who has my vote. Who do you think is better?Revenge is a dish best served in Columbus... and cold.Only two games are left on Ohio State's regular season schedule, and they still remain a half game behind Purdue for first place in the conference. The best chance for the Buckeyes to catch Purdue in the standings takes place this weekend. Michigan State travels to West Lafayette to play a Boilermaker team that recently lost one of their best players (Robbie Hummel) for the season due to an ACL injury. But even if Purdue falters, Ohio State still has work to do.
Earlier this season, the Michigan Wolverines beat an Evan Turnerless Buckeyes squad in a moderately surprising upset. The game was in Ann Harbor and featured Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims going absolutely bananas against Ohio State. Harris scored 24 and Sims had 28 to lead the Wolverines to the biggest win of their season.
Look for the Buckeyes to come out with plenty of energy this Saturday when Michigan visits Columbus. Ohio State will be looking to get their revenge against the Wolverines and remain within a reasonable distance to win a share of the conference title. To do that, they'll have to accomplish the very thing they weren't able to do in their first meeting; limit the damage from Harris and Sims (their two names together like that kind of sound like the name of a law office). I'm expecting Thad Matta to use multiple defensive looks to slow down the dynamic duo. If Ohio State can accomplish this, look for an easy win. If Harris and Sims, Attorney's at Law, can get things going -- this game could get interesting.