With its back up against the wall, Penn State Basketball came up clutch in Columbus, winning 75-71 behind Jalen Pickett’s big night.
Penn State Basketball came into tonight on a two-game win streak but on the outside looking in of the NCAA tournament. Ohio State came in on an eight-game losing streak, as their season has unraveled, and the team looks toward the future. To say this game was a must-win is an understatement.
Both teams came out firing from three-point range to start the game, combining to make five threes on seven attempts in the first couple minutes. In the process, Penn State Basketball set a team record for most three pointers made in a season.
Jalen Pickett would quickly pick up two fouls, sending the reigning National Player of the Week to the bench. Without the senior leader, Penn State turned to Camren Wynter who provided 11 first half points. Seth Lundy led the way for the Nittany Lions in the half with 14 points.
Pickett would check back in with roughly eight minutes remaining in the half and instantly hit a tough shot to get himself going. Ultimately, this would be a very entertaining and competitive half of basketball. The lead changed 12 times and we entered the break tied 37-37.
The offenses would continue to have success after intermission as both teams continued to trade buckets without much separation on the scoreboard. Penn State Basketball led 48-46 over the Buckeyes at the first media timeout of the second half.
The Nittany Lions would come out of the timeout and push the lead back up to six, but Ohio State would answer with an 8-0 run of their own. And once again we are tied 57-57 at the next media timeout.
After being plagued by foul trouble in the first half, Pickett would come alive in the second with 21 huge points. Many of the possessions in the second would end with Pickett hitting an incredibly tough shot with minimal time left on the shot clock. Unfortunately, this was another game where Pickett wasn’t rewarded by the officials for his drives and ability to play through contact. Several possessions resulted in Micah Shrewsberry begging and pleading with the officials for a whistle.
Finally, with one minute left, Pickett would drive and spin into the lane and get a foul call for a three-point play to put Penn State up four. After an Ohio State basket, they would then intentionally foul Pickett who would knock down both free throws to keep the lead at four. Just an incredibly clutch and tremendous performance from Pickett. He absolutely took over in the second half.
After the free throws, Penn State Basketball would hold on for a 75-71 victory. Entering the final stretch of the season, the Nittany Lions could not afford any slip ups if they wanted a chance at the NCAA tournament. So far, they haven’t, as they’re now on a three-game winning streak with three pivotal games remaining.
Pickett and the team will look to stay hot as Penn State will travel back to Happy Valley to take on Rutgers on Sunday at 6:30 PM inside the BJC.