The Ohio State men’s basketball team cannot figure out Penn State.
After never losing to the Nittany Lions in the previous nine seasons under coach Thad Matta, 2013-14 has been completely different, at the Buckeyes lost their second game to Penn State in as many months Thursday, 65-63.
OSU (22-7, 9-7, tied for fourth in the Big Ten) led for the entirety of the first half, extending the lead to as much as 11 after a layup by junior center Amir Williams with 8:54 to go before halftime.
Penn State never went away though, scoring five points in the final three minutes before the break to cut OSU’s lead to 28-26.
The Buckeyes stormed out of the gate in the second half, scoring five straight points to extend their lead to seven.
Penn State took its first lead of the game with 15:13 left when sophomore forward Brandon Taylor nailed a 3-pointer.
The rest of the game was dominated by the referees, who called a total of 48 fouls over the course of the game. Penn State (14-14, 5-10, tied for ninth in the Big Ten) finished the game shooting 22-28 from the line, while OSU was less proficient, making only 18-27.
OSU senior guard Aaron Craft made a pair of free throws with 1:09 left, however, to make the score 62-59, in favor of Penn State.
Penn State graduate-senior guard Tim Frazier turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, only to have Craft do the same for the Buckeyes mere seconds later.
OSU junior forward LaQuinton Ross was then called for a foul on Frazier, who made two free throws to extend the lead back to five.
Ross answered with two free throws of his own at the other end, and then OSU junior guard Shannon Scott stole the ball from Frazier and found junior center Trey McDonald for a lay in to make the score 64-63 with 27 seconds left.
OSU then fouled junior forward Ross Travis, who clanked two freebies to give the Buckeyes a chance to win the game.
But senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining, forcing OSU to foul again. Frazier made one of two shots, giving Smith Jr. another chance to win the game for his team, but Smith Jr. again missed a three to seal the win for Penn State.
McDonald finished with a career-high nine points for the Buckeyes, who were led by Ross with 19.
Redshirt-junior guard D.J. Newbill finished 23 points to lead all scorers. It is the second time this season he has scored at least 20 points against the Buckeyes, pouring in 25 in Penn State’s 71-70 overtime victory in Columbus Jan. 29.
Penn State outrebounded the Buckeyes 34-25 in the win.
OSU is set to travel to Indiana (15-12, 5-9, eighth in the Big Ten) in its final road game of the regular season Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind.