Value City Arena
After a losing streak that seemed to last forever hit Buckeye Nation, Ohio State looks to start a new streak in a positive direction in their final game in the month of January.
"During those four games I never questioned our effort," said Ohio State head coach Thad Matta to the media on Tuesday afternoon .
For the Buckeyes, effort was never an issue in their January skid. The issue has been more so with the ineptitude on the offensive end of the floor. After shooting poorly in the first half against Illinois last Thursday, it appeared that the Buckeyes broke out of their prolonged slump to take down the Fighting Illini and move forward to the next chapter of the season.
The Buckeyes welcome in the Penn State Nittany Lions to Value City Arena as they look to even up their Big Ten record at 4-4.
The Nittany Lions come into Wednesday night following their first Big Ten win of the season over a Nebraska team that Ohio State could not conquer just eight days ago.
With all due respect to the legend of Aaron Craft and the streaky scoring of his wing mate LaQuinton Ross, Penn State will likely have the best player on the court Wednesday. Fifth-year senior Tim Frazier packs a big punch in his 6'6 frame. After battling back from injury, Frazier is slowly getting back to the All-Big Ten level of play he was at during his junior season.
Frazier's 16.5 points per game and 6.4 assists per game are complemented by another fabulous guard by the name of D.J Newbill. The duo gives Penn State two of the top seven scorers in the conference.
The Buckeyes are in for another Big Ten battle and they better be ready for another dynamic backcourt attack.
"You have a good feeling who they're going to get shots for and we need to do a good job locking those guys down," said Matta.
You would expect for The Buckeyes to switch things up defensively early but ultimately Aaron Craft will draw the assignment of checking Tim Frazier on some of the more important possession down the stretch.
The key will be if Ohio State's roll players can provide some assistance for the team's leading scorer, LaQuinton Ross. Craft added 11 points points against Illinois along with 16 from Lenzelle Smith Jr. Smith has to continue shooting the ball with confidence after going 4-8 from three-point range in the previous game.
The Buckeyes might have found a consistent option in Ross, but the trio of Lenzelle Smith, Shannon Scott, and Amir Williams need to help round out the box score for the Ohio State starters.
A balanced offensive attack should put the Buckeyes in good position to come out with a victory before they have to travel to Madison, Wis. to face a top-15 Wisconsin Badgers team.
Numbers to Know
According to bbstate.com, the Buckeyes force their opponents into turnovers 21 percent of all possessions. Most people know the Buckeyes are an excellent defensive team, but this statistic is incredible when you consider both the Big Ten and national averages are a little over 17 percent. This continues to support the notion that Ohio State has one of the best defensive backcourts in America.
Penn State has only won two true road games this season and both wins came in the state of Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions have yet to go on the road and beat a high major opponent. Ohio State seems to be handing out signature wins to opponents this season, but PSU will have an uphill trying to defeat the Buckeyes at Value City Arena.
Ohio State's leading scorer LaQuinton Ross is averaging a ridiculous 21.1 points per 40 minutes. Ross' offensive explosion in conference play has kept the Buckeyes close in some games that they otherwise could've been blown out. If Ohio State goes on to beat Penn State, Ross will need to have another big game to help support his offensively challenged teammates as they continue to search for their rhythm.
Cast of Characters
Penn State's senior guard is back for another year to try and prove himself to be one of the best guards in the country after his injury setback a year prior. Frazier tore his achilles in the fourth game of the year but is taking advantage of his extra year of eligibility due to an injury waiver. In 35.4 minutes per game, Frazier is averaging a solid 16.5 points and 6.4 assists.
This redshirt junior from Philadelphia is having an impressive season, leading Penn State in scoring with 17.2 points per game. Newbill is a dangerous scorer who led the Nittany Lions in scoring and assists a year ago when Frazier went down. Along with his one season at Southern Mississippi, Newbill has compiled over 1,100 career points.
Shannon Scott needs to play better. Period. The junior guard from Georgia has not played up to his abilities in his past four games and he needs to get back to shooting the ball with confidence. Scott tends to dribble the ball too much in traffic, which can lead to turnovers. Scott's play will have a lot to do with where the Buckeyes end up come March.
Thompson continues to dazzle with highlight reel dunks and show major effort on the defensive end. You cannot help but get excited whenever he touches the ball in the open court. Thompson only scored three points against Illinois, but it was a clutch three-ball that put OSU in a great position to win. Thompson just needs to continue bringing energy for the Buckeyes off the bench.
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