STATE COLLEGE —
Sam Thompson scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and No. 14 Ohio State took advantage of cold-shooting Penn State in a 65-51 victory Saturday.
Deshaun Thomas added 11 points, well below his Big Ten-leading average of 20.5. Thompson picked up the slack against the Nittany Lions, who went 11-plus minutes of the first half without a field goal.
Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) gradually asserted control in the second half, though scrappy Penn State (8-12, 0-8) tried to hang around with defense and got within 10 points with 2:41 remaining.
Only the Nittany Lions could not stop Thompson. Left open in the corner, the lithe 6-foot-7 forward drove the baseline and contorted his body around 6-9 center Sasa Borovnjak for a layup, three-point play and
43-27 lead with about 13:30 left.
Jermaine Marshall had 16 points for the Nittany Lions, who have lost 18 straight to the Buckeyes.
Penn State still hasn’t won a game in the Big Ten this season.
D.J. Newbill had 15 points and six assists, while Borovnjak added nine points. The Nittany Lions did draw within 59-49 with 2:41 left off two foul shots from Marshall.
But Ohio State had an answer at the free throw line in Lenzelle Smith Jr., who went hit 5 of 6 from the stripe over the final 4:13. Smith finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Ohio State held a 39-25 advantage on the boards, and limited the Nittany Lions to just two offensive boards. Penn State did commit a season-low four turnovers.
But poor shooting early had spoiled Penn State’s thoughts for an upset.
Ohio State pulled away midway through the first half after Penn State went cold from the field after an impressive drive by Newbill. The Nittany Lions guard stopped suddenly in the lane, causing Buckeyes standout defender Aaron Craft to trip backward to leave an obstacle-free path to the basket for Newbill for an 11-all tie with 13:34 left.
And then the Nittany Lions went more than 11 minutes until their next field goal. By that time, Marshall’s 3 with 1:27 in the half cut Ohio State’s lead to 27-16.
In between, they had bad misses from their big men; a drive from Marshall that bounced tantalizingly on the rim before skipping off; and five missed 3s in the half by Brandon Taylor, several wide open from the wing.
Defense helped the Nittany Lions hang around in spite of the dry spell. Though they often lack in talent, coach Patrick Chambers’ team has been well-schooled in hustling and scrambling for loose balls for 40 minutes.
The Buckeyes weren’t playing particularly well, either, but good ball movement gave them sound looks from the corners. Thompson’s behind-the-back pass to an open Shannon Scott in the right corner gave the Buckeyes a 17-11 lead with 12 minutes left.
In this game, against cold-shooting Penn State, it seemed like a double-digit deficit to the delight of the healthy sprinkling of fans wearing Ohio state red.
Thomas finished 4-of-13 shooting.
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