PSU Hoops falls at No. 16 Ohio State without Seth Lundy
Down its best defender and leading scorer in Seth Lundy, Penn State was shorthanded heading into a matchup with No. 16 Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions took a hot start on the Buckeyes’ home court, jumping out to a 10-4 lead before going cold for a long time.
Penn State clearly missed Lundy on both sides of the floor. It went 5-for-22 from the field at one point, searching desperately for a bucket to end the drought.
On the other side, E.J. Liddell was taking over for Ohio State. He had seven points, three assists and a pair of blocks during the long Buckeye run.
The Penn State defense did enough to keep it to a nine-point deficit despite not scoring for nearly seven minutes. Then, Jalen Pickett finally found nylon with a layup before a quick defensive stop was followed by a Sam Sessoms three.
All of a sudden the Nittany Lions brought the lead back down to four.
Ohio State lost a key contributor during that sequence, with center Zed Key leaving the floor with what appeared to be an ankle/lower leg injury. Key came back onto the floor with just under two minutes left in the half.
Penn State didn’t find much momentum after the pair of made shots, and four free throws propelled Ohio State back up to a seven-point lead.
Pickett had a slow first half overall like the rest of his team, but another layup cut the lead to 27-22 heading into the break. It was an ugly 30%-shooting half for Penn State, but its defense held Ohio State to just 33% to keep the game within reach.
Both teams shot 27 times in the first half, proving Penn State kept the pace where it wanted it, but Ohio State shot slightly better from both the field and the free throw line to keep its lead.
The offensive woes continued out of the gates in the second half, but Ohio State climbed up to a 10-point lead before Penn State made two straight layups to cut it back down.
Liddell found his way inside again to become the first player in double figures after a massive and-1 over Jalanni White, who went to the bench with four fouls.
As soon as it looked like Ohio State was pulling away, Penn State managed to bring it back within five. Sessoms picked up the offensive slack, driving and scoring or kicking on straight possessions numerous times. He quickly shot up to 12 points with just under 12 minutes to play.
Jevonnie Scott found some quality minutes with a driving dunk and drawing a foul Key on the next defensive possession.
However, Ohio State once again pushed its lead back out to 10 points. A 3-pointer from Dallion Johnson showed life for Penn State but Liddell ripped it right back with two free throws.
Pickett hit another wild three with the shot clock winding down, but a chance to make it a one-possession game was missed from deep by Jalanni White. Liddell came up clutch again with a made 3-pointer on the other end.
Penn State once again brought it to four on a Myles Dread 3-pointer. But Ohio State kept getting to the free throw line. While it wasn’t the Buckeyes’ best shooting performance from the stripe, the sheer volume of attempts made a major difference in the day.
With another chance to make it a one-possession game, Sessoms turned it over deep in the paint. Ohio State made two more free throws to keep the lead at five.
A desperation three fell for Sessoms with just six seconds left, but Ohio State put the game on ice.
Micah Shrewsberry and Penn State kept it close but just couldn’t get over the hump, falling 61-56 on the road at Ohio State.
Ohio State, Liddell dominate the paint
Penn State was outmatched on the inside for most of the contest on Sunday. Liddell’s 19 points were brutal, but he did a lot more than just score.
He forced many of the Nittany Lions into foul trouble and more than held his own on the defensive end. He tacked on seven rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks.
Liddell played a similar role to Trevion Williams of Purdue in Penn State’s loss to the Boilermakers. The Nittany Lions were trading blows until the end, but Williams came up with the goods whenever Purdue needed it. That was Liddell on Sunday.
Key added 10 points and two blocks of his own, but he was kept off the floor for a large portion of the final moments with some foul trouble.
Ohio State out-rebounded Penn State 37-30 and kept Penn State in heavy foul trouble with its interior presence.
Penn State misses Lundy
While he hadn’t played his best offensively in the past few matchups, Lundy was a major key for Penn State because of his defense and his knack for hitting the big shot.
Without Lundy, the Nittany Lions struggled to break scoring droughts, and Liddell was a much bigger factor than he was the first time these teams matched up.
Pickett has been the go-to scorer aside from Lundy, and his first-half struggles were representative overall for Penn State. He had five points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Coming in averaging 17.5 points in conference play, Pickett finished well below that mark with 11 points. He was also met with some foul trouble like most of the team.
Lundy’s late-game scoring was missed as well, as Penn State’s defense still kept the game within single digits for almost the entire second half.
Sessoms stepped up on the offensive end with 15 points, but he had a couple of costly turnovers as the game wound down.
Greg Lee was tasked with Liddell for most of the game defensively in place of Lundy, but he struggled to quiet the Buckeye star.
Poor shooting, fouls kill Nittany Lions
Penn State really didn’t play its worst basketball against Ohio State, even without Lundy on the floor.
The pace of play — a stat in which Penn State ranks 347th out of 358 teams — really favored the Nittany Lions. Each team shot 27 times in the first half, and neither one turned it over a whole lot. Penn State even ended the afternoon with more shots than the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions even got open looks on a number of possessions, it just wasn’t their day from the field. The 30% mark from the first half only got slightly better as the game drew on, ending the day at 40%.
Foul trouble killed Penn State up and down the roster, though. Ohio State got to the charity stripe 36 times in the game.
While the Buckeyes only shot 67% from the line, it was simply too much for a Penn State team that shot a poor 57% of its own on free throws with only 14 attempts.