Five Things We Learned in a Road Loss to Penn State
By John Porentas
1) The Buckeyes are terrible against a zone defense. OSU built an 11-point lead early in the game while facing Penn State's man to man defense. Penn State switched to a zone, and the rest is history. The Buckeyes looked like they had never seen a zone before. There was no zone-busting shooter on the outside, and no one who could gap the zones to create overloads. As the game wore on Sam Thompson looked reluctant, almost afraid to shoot or possess the ball. It's inexplicable really, and leads to losses like you saw.
2) The combination of Craft in foul trouble and no rebounding production in the post is a killer. Craft is one of the guys who could drive the gaps in a zone and either score or dish, but his foul trouble kept him off the floor. When he went to the bench, he took OSU's ability to attack a zone with him. Craft logged just 19 of a possible 40 minutes. Amir Williams and Trey McDonald combined for eight points, but the duo also combined for a grand total of one rebound. When your offense can't produce good shots against a zone defense one of your few hopes is to get some easy second-chance opportunities. For the record, Penn State scored 15 second-chance points, OSU 5. In a two-point game, that's a killer. Penn State's overall rebounding edge was 34 -25.
3) The Nittany Lions didn't have to outshoot the Buckeyes from the field in order to beat them. The Buckeyes only shot 44 percent from the field, but Penn State shot just 43 percent. The Buckeyes actually scored 20 field goals to Penn State's 19. It also wasn't the officiating. Penn State shot 28 free throws, OSU 27. The difference was in the ability to make free throws. Penn State made 22 of their 28 attempts (78.6 percent). The Buckeyes made 18 of 27 (67 percent). In a two-point game four more points from the free throw line on almost exactly the same number of attempts was just as damaging as the rebounding situation in the post.
4) With Aaron Craft on the bench for half the game the Nittany Lion guards were too much for the OSU guards. D. J. Newbill and Tim Frazier combined for 39 of Penn State's 65 points. They were a big part of the free throw discrepancy combining to make 18 of 20 attempts. Frazier was guilty of six turnovers, but that was mitigated by five by Aaron Craft. Penn State's guard won the guard matchup and that's a big reason why they won the game.
5) Smith's last shoot was probably a good choice. There will be varying opinions on this, but he is a senior who has made his share of threes in his career. When you look at the overall situation, it actually made more sense to try to win it with one shot in regulation than take it to overtime with a two-pointer. Craft had four fouls as did Amir Williams. Who knows how long either of them would have lasted in an overtime. The loss of Craft especially would have made it really tough for the Buckeyes. Just having him have to play with four fouls was going to be tough situation. The three was probably OSU's best chance to win. It just didn't go it.
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