It wasn’t the prettiest win, but Ohio State was able to stay undefeated in Big Ten play on Monday night with a 64-59 win over Nebraska. In a game that was close throughout, Ohio State was able to withstand 34 points from James Palmer Jr., which was the most by an opposing player at Value City Arena. Now the Buckeyes will try and record their ninth win in a row tonight when they host Penn State.
Most of the contributions on Monday night for Ohio State came from the starters. Aside from Kam Williams, who failed to score a point, the other four starters for the Buckeyes all scored at least 12 points in the victory. Keita Bates-Diop led the way with 20 points, while Jae’Sean Tate added 17 points to pace Ohio State. The only scorer off the bench for the Buckeyes in the win over the Cornhuskers was Andre Wesson, who scored three points.
Ohio State has had plenty of success against Penn State over the years, posting a 34-14 all-time record against the Nittany Lions. In last season’s only meeting with Penn State, a late layup by Jae’Sean Tate was the difference in a 71-70 Ohio State win in State College. The Buckeyes are 17-4 against Penn State in Columbus, with the last win over the Nittany Lions at Value City Arena coming two years ago to the day, with Ohio State posting a 66-46 victory.
After Monday night’s close game against Nebraska, Ohio State figures to be in for another tight game against the Nittany Lions. Penn State has played eight conference games this season, with six of those eight being decided by single digits. The only games that were decided by double digits were a 78-63 Penn State win over Northwestern in early January, and a 95-84 loss in overtime to Minnesota last week.
The latest of Penn State’s tough losses came on Saturday to Northwestern at Allstate Arena. The Nittany Lions and Wildcats were tied at 59 with just over five minutes to go, but Northwestern outscored Penn State 11-2 down the stretch. Shep Garner led Penn State with 22 points in the loss, while Lamar Stevens was the only other Penn State player who scored in double figures, finishing the game with 13 points.
Coach Patrick Chambers is in his seventh season at Penn State, but is still looking to take his team to the next level. At 13-8 so far this year, Chambers has a good chance eclipsing the 18 wins he led the Nittany Lions to during the 2014-15 season. When Penn State beat Nebraska a couple weeks ago, it marked Chambers’ 100th win with the program. Chambers is still trying to secure his first NCAA Tournament bid with the school, and has only once taken Penn State to postseason play, when they reached the CBI Quarterfinal at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Numbers to know
C.J. Jackson has hit at least one three-pointer in 18 straight games. Ohio State didn’t have much success in Monday’s game from behind the arc, but Jackson’s three-pointer late in the first half was one of two three-pointers the Buckeyes hit in the game. The last time Jackson failed to hit a three-pointer in a game was back in the win over Northeastern in November.
Had it not been for Ohio State’s ball security, the Buckeyes might have been upset by Nebraska on Monday night. The Buckeyes tied a season-low with just six turnovers in the game, and Ohio State didn’t turn the basketball over at all in the second half. During their eight-game winning streak, Ohio State has committed less than 10 turnovers in five of those wins.
Ohio State will have to keep a close eye on Penn State’s Shep Garner behind the arc. The senior guard hit six three-pointers in the loss to Northwestern to raise his career total to 276 three-pointers, which is fourth all-time in Penn State history, and currently seventh among NCAA active players. Saturday’s performance marked the second time this season that Garner has hit six three-pointers in a game.
Cast of characters
The junior from Illinois scored 20 points in Monday night’s win over Nebraska, giving him eight games this year in which he has scored at least 20 points. The forward has reached double figures in scoring in all but one game this year, which was Ohio State’s first game of the PK80 Classic in Portland against Gonzaga. Bates-Diop now sits in 50th place all-time on Ohio State’s scoring list with 1,033 points.
Even though he was limited to just 13 minutes due to foul trouble in Monday night’s win, Wesson still scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The freshman did most of his damage at the foul line, tying a career-high with six made free throws. Wesson has now reached double figures in scoring in three of his last four games.
The sophomore guard is one of the Big Ten’s most improved players this year, increasing his scoring by 7.5 points per game. Carr sits just behind Keita Bates-Diop in the Big Ten in scoring this season, averaging 18.9 points per game. Carr has recorded at least 20 points in seven games this year, with his season-high of 33 points coming in the season-opening win over Campbell, and the overtime loss to Minnesota last week.
January has been quite kind to Stevens, who is averaging 19.3 points per game so far this month. Stevens’ best performance of the year came in the 78-63 win over Northwestern, in which he scored 30 points. Stevens followed that up with 20 points in the loss to Indiana, and 26 points in the win over Nebraska. The sophomore forward is also averaging 6.5 rebounds per game this year, and has posted two double-doubles.
How to watch:
Game time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
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