Game: #22 Ohio State (22-6, 9-6 Big Ten) at Penn State (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten)
Date: February 27, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
This season has had its share of ups and downs for the Penn State Nittny Lions. After posting a decentt 9-4 non-conference schedule, Penn State started 0-6 in Big Ten play. Things looked good after a three-game win streak. However, since then, the Nittany Lions have lost four of their last five games. Next up is a rematch with the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Just a month ago, these two teams met in Columbus. In that game the Nittany Lions pulled off a shocking 71-70 victory in overtime. Penn State will be hoping for a similar result in this one.
In the last meeting, guard D.J. Newbill had a monster game, putting up 25 points and eight rebounds. He also hit a three-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime and then hit the game-winning shot to complete the upset. Star point guard Tim Frazier struggled, putting up just eight points. However, forward Brandon Taylor poured in 19 and freshman guard Graham Woodward scored 11.
This time around, the Buckeyes will surely be on alert and will look to shut down the Nittany Lions on offense. Frazier and Newbill will garner most of the attention from the defense, meaning that like the last game, Penn State will need production from somewhere else. Guard John Johnson has been effective off the bench lately.
In their previous two games, the Nittany Lions have really struggled on both sides of the court, losing 82-70 against Iowa and 80-67 at Nebraska. Penn State will need to play a near perfect game against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State enters the contest winners of three straight games and seven of the last nine. While a regular season Big Ten title is now out of the picture, the Buckeyes are still fighting for the best seeding possible in the NCAA Tournament.
LaQuinton Ross leads the way on offense with 14.3 points a game. He’s also ranked second on the team in rebounding. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is another good offensive weapon, averaging 11.8 points a game. Of course, this Ohio State team centers around guard Aaron Craft. He brings senior leadership to the court as well as an ability to see the whole floor and make plays as a team leader.
In the last meeting of these two teams, Craft was held in check by the Nittany Lions. He scored just eight points and delivered only four assists. Ross was the most successful in that game as the led the team in both points (16) and rebounds (7). Smith Jr. also had a good game against the Nittany Lions with 15 points.
Ohio State will be looking to make up for the loss in the last game. Even though this is a home game for the Nittany Lions, it’s a tough matchup. Penn State will need to once again play a great game in order to pull off a second upset of the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions have basically no chance at playing in the post season, therefore, this game against a ranked opponent presents an opportunity to play for pride and make a statement to the rest of the conference.
Follow VBR Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter