Penn State men’s basketball lost its Big Ten opener Sunday night at home to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 76-64.
The two offenses were clicking early as a raucous Bryce Jordan Center crowd cheered on the Nittany Lions and rained boos down on the Buckeyes.
Ohio State managed to score the first five points of the game, before the Nittany Lions answered with the next 12 points. Junior forward Seth Lundy scored nine of those 12 to lead the run for Penn State and made a few difficult shots in the process.
Ohio State was able to withstand the run, however, outscoring Penn State 36-18 the rest of the first half. The team’s offensive outburst was largely led by its shooting from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes finished the half shooting 43.8% on 16 attempted 3-pointers. Penn State was unable to keep pace from deep, only attempting nine 3-pointers. While the Lions made 44.4% of them, that number of attempts made it difficult to keep up with the Buckeyes.
They built off that 41-30 lead early in the second half and continued to score with efficiency. The Nittany Lions tried to keep pace, but were unable to match Ohio State in the early part of the second half. They struggled to make shots from the perimeter, which was vital to closing the gap early.
They pushed the Buckeyes to the brink as the second half wore on, cutting the lead to as little as six with only a few minutes remaining.
The Ohio State shooting performance, however, proved to be too much to handle.
Player of the game
Senior guard Jalen Pickett: The Nittany Lions are in desperate need of ball handlers and one of their better ones stepped up Sunday to help control the game. Pickett was the type of scorer they’ll need the rest of the season and looked the part of a player who can create for himself or his teammates. He’s not a flashy ball handler or an elite athlete, but Pickett is calm and controlled with the ball in his hands and tends to make the right decisions to help his team out. He finished the game with 23 points and 3 assists for Penn State. The senior guard will need to be a stabilizing force with his steadiness and showed he’s more than capable of that Sunday night.
Stat of the game
12: That’s how many 3-pointers Ohio State made Sunday night. No matter how good Penn State was offensively, its offense was going to need to match that type of production in order to defeat the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions were unable to do that and that led to a growing deficit throughout the game. While they played well and made shots offensively, Ohio State controlled most of the game in large part because of its efficiency. Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry emphasized his team’s need to defend better from beyond the arc this season, but it was unable to do so Sunday night.
vs. Wagner: Penn State will stay at home Wednesday night for a non-conference matchup with the Wagner Seahawks. The Seahawks are 3-1 this season and have a win over VCU, a team Penn State will play later in December.
Their lone loss came against a Seton Hall team that is ranked No. 32 in the country in the KenPom rankings, an efficiency-based ranking. While Wagner isn’t a big-time opponent, the Nittany Lions could still be in for a difficult matchup at the Bryce Jordan Center.