Thompson Sparks Buckeyes Past Toothless Lions
By Brandon Castel
Sam Thompson picked a good night to bring more than just his highlight film to the arena.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ohio State’s high-flying sophomore scored a team-high 16 points on just seven shots as the Buckeyes won another key Big Ten road game, 65-51, over Penn State on Saturday.
The Chicago native scored only three points in Ohio State’s three-point loss at Michigan State a week ago, but he gave Thad Matta and the 14th-ranked Buckeyes (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) a tremendous lift against the Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-7) at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
The team’s star, Deshaun Thomas, struggled to find his rhythm against the Big Ten bottom-feeders. After scoring 20+ points in five-straight games, including a 28-point showing in East Lansing, Thomas has managed only 16 and 11 in the last two outings.
He was on he way to a big game against Iowa this past Tuesday before an errant elbow sent him to the locker room with a cut above his right. Thomas hasn’t quite been the same since. The preseason All-American scored a season-low 11 points Saturday on 4 of 13 shooting.
It didn’t matter. The Nittany Lions were even worse.
At one point, Penn State went 16 straight possessions without a field goal and the Lions shot just 36 percent as a team in their 18th-straight loss to the Buckeyes. They were 4 of 17 behind the arc and also lost the battle on the boards, 39-25.
Jermaine Marshall led Penn State with 16 points and D.J. Newbill had 15 points and six assists. Center Sasa Borovnjak chipped in with nine points, but the Nittany Lions fell behind by as many as 17 points in this one.
The Buckeyes got off to a slow start, with the two teams tied at 11 in the early going, but Ohio State went on an 18-7 run to close out the first half. They took a 29-18 into the locker room at halftime over a PSU team that is still searching for its first conference win of the season.
Ohio State was in control for most of the second half, but Penn State did threaten to make it a game during the final five minutes. The Nittany Lions cut Ohio State’s lead to just 10, at 59-49, with 2:41 to play.
Like Iowa on Tuesday, they used a full court press to force the Buckeyes into some careless turnovers, but Ohio State was able to put this one away at the free throw line.
Junior Lenzelle Smith Jr. went hit 5 of 6 from the charity stripe over the final 4:13 of the game as the Buckeyes pulled away for a 65-51 win on the road. Smith also scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds as OSU outscored Penn State 36-33 in the second half. Ohio State shot 44 percent for the game and went 4 of 9 from long range. They made 19 of their 23 free throws and improved to 5-2 in conference play.
Ohio State’s next game will be back in Columbus on Tuesday, Jan. 29 when the Buckeyes host Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2) at Value City Arena (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
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