Basketball

Balanced Bucks Open Big Ten With 76-64 Win At Penn State | Four Takeaways From OSU’s Victory

Ohio State (6-2, 1-0) went on the road and secured their first Big Ten win over the season with a 76-64 victory over Penn State (4-4). Forward Kyle Young led OSU with 14 points, hitting all four of his three-point attempts. EJ Liddell added 14 points.

Penn State guard Jalen Pickett scored a game-high 23 points.

The Buckeyes started with a three-pointer from freshman guard Malaki Branham and a layup from Penn State transfer guard Jamari Wheeler to go up 5-0. Ohio State then gave up a 12-0 run to the Nittany Lions over the next three minutes. The Buckeyes answered the PSU run with a 30-12 stretch of their own, featuring three-point baskets from Meechie Johnson, Jamari Wheeler, Justin Ahrens, Cedric Russell, and a pair from Kyle Young. The Buckeyes led 41-30 at the half.

The Ohio State lead ballooned to 18 points over the first four minutes of the second half as both Ahrens and Young added more threes. From that point on, however, Penn State began chipping away at the lead — and they did a lot of it at the free throw line as the Buckeyes grew increasingly familiar with foul trouble. With 6:50 remaining and Ohio State leading 62-49, EJ Liddell picked up his fourth foul, sending him to the bench. Penn State immediately went on an 8-2 run, but that run was slowed by a three from Meechie Johnson to make it 67-57 with 3:53 remaining.

The Nittany Lions would get no closer than six points down the stretch.

Ohio State finished with 17 assists on their 27 made field goals. They shot 27-of-53 overall (51%) and 12-of-27 from three-point territory (44%). Penn State shot 23-of-51 from the field (45%), but just 5-of-17 from three (29%).

Malaki Branham scored a career-high 11 points, showcasing his growing mid-range game.

Wheeler’s Return

Jamari Wheeler transferred to Ohio State this season from Penn State, which made this his first time back to the PSU campus since he left. He returned in style and was also showered by constant boos from the Nittany Lion fans. Wheeler scored nine points and handed out nine assists. He also harassed the Penn State offense for the entirety of the game, poking away passes, stripping post players, and just being an overall nuisance defensively. He came away with three steals on the night.

Kyle Young Key Off Bench

Kyle Young came off the bench to lead the Buckeyes with 16 points in 23 minutes of action. He was 4-of-5 from the field and hit all four of his three-point attempts. Young has gotten better and better over the years with his shot and is now also comfortable shooting from the wings and corners as well. Young also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, helping to limit Penn State to six offensive rebounds. In the past, there have been times when any offense from Young is just a bonus. With his ability to shoot and his touch around the basket, however, he’s made himself into much more than just a bonus guy. His offense is important to the success of this team, especially on the road.

Swiss Watch Movement

The Ohio State offense was a constant throughout this game. They weren’t necessarily up-and-down the court with a hectic purpose, but the ball moved smoothly within the half court. The Buckeyes were outscored 32-28 in the paint but they overcame that with ball movement and open shot-making. And that ball movement wasn’t just by the starters. It was an all-hands-on-deck thing. Kyle Young’s night has already been mentioned, but freshman point guard Meechie Johnson also had a very solid game off the bench, scoring eight points and being the recipient of some timely passes which provided him good looks from the perimeter.

No Road Woes

It wasn’t an easy 40 minutes for the Buckeyes, and that’s okay. Any road trip in the Big Ten can turn into a loss, but Ohio State controlled this game from about the 15-minute mark of the first half. The lead fluctuated, but the Buckeyes were never in danger once they gained a solid hand-hold. Perhaps most impressively is that Ohio State did this without much scoring from EJ Liddell and also while the Nittany Lions shot the ball relatively well from the field. The Buckeye offense was efficient and consistent in this game despite not getting many points in the post overall. They won this game without being post-heavy, which is a good experience for them moving forward.

The Box Score

[Ohio State header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]