Buckeyes freezing of Frazier plays key role in win over Penn State
With 13 minutes left in the game and his team down by 25 points, Penn State guard Tim Frazier had his lay-up attempt cleanly blocked at the basket by Ohio State forward Sam Thompson. The block sent Frazier tumbling to the floor and knocked his left sneaker off, causing him to spend the ensuing OSU possession with one eye on the action and one eye on his shoe.
It was just that kind of day for the Nittany Lions’ star.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Frazier entered Penn State’s Wednesday night match-up with No. 4 OSU with a league-high 10 twenty-point-plus scoring games. He left it having scored 16 points on a not-so-efficient 6-of-16 shooting.
The reduced play of Penn State’s leader in scoring, rebounds, and assists played an instrumental role in the Buckeyes’ 78-54 blowout victory over the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night.
It wasn’t just Frazier’s scoring that fell below his season average. The junior guard pulled down just one rebound and added four assists, numbers which are both south of the 5 rebounds and 6.4 assists he was averaging before Wednesday night.
Penn State coach Pat Chambers attributed Frazier’s subpar outing to the play of OSU point guard Aaron Craft.
“Craft did a great job on him,” Chambers said. “Going in yesterday, I had a couple of our second teams guys really get after Tim and play physical and play tough and that’s the way Craft plays. I think Craft got into Tim a little bit, mentally and physically.”
Thanks in large part to the effort from Craft, Frazier got off to a slow start, only managing to score four first half points against the Buckeyes. When Craft subbed out of the game for the final time and with 13:36 remaining in the game, Frazier had only scored six total points.
“Aaron was extremely effective,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “Aaron likes a good challenge and Tim Frazier’s definitely a heck of a challenge so for a majority of the game we gave him pretty good support and had a pretty good understanding of what he was trying to do.”
A selection to the 2011 Big Ten All-Defensive team, Craft said that slowing down the Nittany Lions’ leading scorer was a team effort.
“He’s a great player and it’s definitely not just one guy out there trying to guard him,” Craft said. “We did a good job today as a team recognizing where he was and as good as he is off ball screens, I think our big guys did a good job of hedging and not letting him get by. So it was definitely a team effort on him today.”
With Penn State coming off of a season that saw them in the Big Ten championship game and now two games under .500, Chambers said that his team can’t afford an off-night from its top player.
“He’s the leader on our team, but Tim needs to come every night, unfortunately,” Chambers said. “He’s got a tough job for this team. He can’t have any nights off.”
Like Frazier, Craft too can’t afford any nights off, especially in the Big Ten, which features several of college basketball’s elite point guards. Sunday will be no different when the Buckeyes host Michigan, who is currently tied with OSU for the conference lead and features one of the country’s top freshmen in point guard Trey Burke.
“You look across the league at the point guards and I think that understanding going into every game is going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a team thing,” Matta said. “He’s obviously having a great, great freshman year. He’s a great player and we’ll have to get ‘em ready.”
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