Playing on the road has not been a strong suit for the Ohio State men’s basketball team this season.
But not only did the Buckeyes win their third straight game Wednesday night, they also earned a place in the record books for their coach.
Thad Matta earned his 297th OSU win as the Buckeyes (22-8, 11-6) topped the Penn State Nittany Lions (15-15, 3-14) for just their fourth road victory of the season, 77-67, in State College, Pa.
After the win, Matta is tied for the most all-time wins as an OSU men’s basketball coach, along with Fred Taylor, who coached the Buckeyes from 1959-76.
The game started out looking as though the Buckeyes would coast as they jumped out to a 15-8 lead, led by eight early points from freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate.
However, the Nittany Lions, who were celebrating senior day, went on a 21-5 run to open a nine-point lead on the Buckeyes.
OSU fought back, ending the first half on a 9-1 run to head to the locker room down, 30-29.
The game of runs continued after the break as Penn State come out of the second half gate swinging, going on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to nine.
Once again, the Buckeyes answered. An 11-0 run gave OSU a 40-38 lead with 14:34 to play, capped by a deep 3-pointer from freshman guard D’Angelo Russell.
After four straight points by Penn State, Russell buried two more 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to push the Buckeye lead to 46-42.
A three-point play by Russell with 11:11 to play capped a 21-4 run in just over six minutes for the Buckeyes, with 12 of those points coming from Russell.
Russell finished with a game-high 28 points on the night.
Tate, who got off to a quick start for OSU, finished with 13 points to go along with five rebounds.
Senior guard Shannon Scott led the Buckeyes in assists with seven while adding another seven boards to complement his 13 points.
Penn State senior guard D.J. Newbill and senior forward Ross Travis combined for 21 of the Nittany Lions’ first 30 points.
The win is Matta’s 399th triumph overall as he spent time as a head coach at his alma mater, Butler University, and Xavier University before joining the Buckeyes.
Matta is in his 11th year as the head man in Columbus and has won at least 20 games every season since taking over.
The Buckeyes are set to conclude their regular season at home on senior day Sunday against No. 6 Wisconsin. Tip is set for 4:30.