Diebler Spoils Penn State Senior Night
By Brandon Castel
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With the freshly-appointed No. 1 team in the country on hand, a raucous crowd showed up at the Bryce Jordan Center Tuesday hoping for a colossal upset on Senior Night at Penn State.
Instead, Jon Diebler had a colossal night at their expense.
The sharp-shooting senior buried a school-record 10 threes as Ohio State (28-2, 15-2 Big Ten) downed the Nittany Lions (15-13, 8-9) by a score of 82-61 to lock up at least a share of the regular season Big Ten title.
“We just want to win it out-right. We don’t like to share,” said freshman Jared Sullinger, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes.
“That’s like sharing your girlfriend, we don’t like to do that. We like to keep it one man, one girl.”
It was the final road game of the year for the Buckeyes, who had lost their last two away from home, at Wisconsin and Purdue. Happy Valley had an unusual buzz for the final home games of star point guard Talor Battle and four of his senior teammates, but none of them could match the performances of Diebler and William Buford, who combined for 51 of Ohio State’s 82 points in a second-straight blowout win.
Already the Big Ten’s official all-time leader in three points makes, Diebler connected on nine of his first 10 tries from behind the arc, including two step-back threes with a man in his face. With his second make, Diebler passed Michigan’s Louis Bullock for the unofficial record (340), which was vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
“Coach was still yelling at me to get my feet ready, but I was just fortunate enough to get open a little bit tonight and my team did a great job of finding me,” said Diebler, who tied the Big Ten single-game record held by Michigan State’s Chris Hill.
“It helps when you have guys like Will, the way he was playing, he played extremely well. Dave (Lighty) is always a threat and Jared draws so much attention, so it was just one of those nights where I was the guy to be the leading scorer. The next game we could have another leading scorer.
While it seemed like Diebler couldn’t miss on one end, the Nittany Lions couldn’t buy a basket at the other. They had only 18 points in the first 20 minutes. They shot just 27.3 percent from the floor in the first half. That included a 1-for-8 performance from senior Jeff Brooks. Penn State trailed the Buckeyes 33-18 at the break.
“We picked a bad night to play really poorly for us,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said after the beating.
“Credit Ohio State, they shot the heck out of the basketball. We didn’t play well offensively, and defensively we didn’t guard them. They were on their A-game, and when they make perimeter shots they’re awful tough to beat.”
The Buckeyes were 13-of-24 from behind the arc, including the 10 by Diebler, who hit nine of them in a row before finally misfiring on what would have been the Big Ten record. He finished the game 10-of-12 from long range, going 5-of-6 behind the arc in each half.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before,” said Buford, who had a fine shooting night of his own.
“That’s crazy. I haven’t seen nothing like that. He’s a tremendous shooter and he works hard on his jumper every day. It showed out there on the court today.”
Buford got things going for the Buckeyes with a great-looking jumper, and had six of Ohio State’s first nine points. They led only 9-8 after five minutes, and Dallas Lauderdale soon picked up his second foul, but the Buckeyes rattled off nine straight points on their way to an 18-4 run. It was capped off by yet another jumper from Buford, who scored 10 of his 21 points in the first half.
“I was just taking what the defense gave me and at the same time being aggressive,” said Buford, who was 9-of-14 from the floor.
“My shots were falling and my teammates were able to get me the ball.”
Ohio State shot 55.4 percent for the game and outrebounded Penn State 31-22 on their own Senior Night. Battle did finish with 18 points and five rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes out-scored the Nittany Lions 49-43 in the second half.
“Our defense in the first half was really, really good,” Matta said.
“In the second half we just kind of traded baskets for 20 minutes.”
That was more than enough for Ohio State to wrap up the game, and at least a share of the conference crown with one game yet to be played.
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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