Men's basketball: Buckeyes at a loss to explain this one

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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A little more than a week after a shocking loss at Nebraska, Ohio State suffered an even bigger one last night.

The No. 24 Buckeyes lost to Penn State for the first time in 19 games. And at Value City Arena, no less, where the Nittany Lions had not won since 2001.

“Top-25 teams at home don’t lose these games,” senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. said, “and we lost.”

Trailing by 11 points with less than eight minutes to play, Penn State outscored the Buckeyes 17-6 to tie the score at the end of regulation, then beat them 71-70 in overtime when D.J. Newbill made a jumper in the lane over Aaron Craft with three seconds left.

Newbill, who also made a three-pointer with 13 seconds left that forced overtime, scored a game-high 25 points, 17 after halftime, to lead Penn State (11-10, 2-6), which beat a ranked Big Ten team on the road for the first time in five years.

After a Penn State timeout with 1.9 seconds left, Craft had a chance to win the game but did not get off a shot from the right wing.

“I probably should have passed it to Lenzelle in the corner,” he said. “I looked up at the clock, thought I had time to take a dribble, did, and didn’t pick it up clean. By then, time was up.”

LaQuinton Ross scored 16 points, Smith 15 and Amir Williams 12 for Ohio State (16-5, 3-5), which lost for the fifth time in six games after starting the season 15-0. The Buckeyes had won 80 straight home games against unranked teams dating to a loss to West Virginia in 2008.

Where did this one get away?

“A lot of different places,” coach Thad Matta said. “We didn’t rebound at the level we needed to. We made some key mistakes defensively down the stretch, things that we had covered. And we didn’t execute. It’s funny, every time we did the job we were supposed to, we did a pretty good job.

“And then offensively, you’ve got (eight) field goals in the (last) 25 minutes. You’ve got to score the ball.”

Ohio State lengthened a three-point lead to 59-48 with 7:58 to play when Penn State turned the ball over four times in seven possessions. But the Nittany Lions outscored Ohio State 14-3 over the next six-plus minutes and tied the score at 62 with 1:08 left on a Newbill three-pointer.

A driving layup by Craft — Ohio State’s only field goal in the last 81/2 minutes of regulation — and a free throw by Smith put the Buckeyes ahead 65-62 with 27.3 seconds left.

Penn State called a timeout to draw up a final play, and it paid off as Newbill came off a screen on the right wing to bury a three that tied the score at 65 with 13 seconds left. Ohio State had two shots to win in regulation, but Smith’s jumper from the wing and Shannon Scott’s put-back from the lane both came up short.

Newbill wasn’t done. After Ohio State took a 70-67 lead with 2:07 left in overtime, the Buckeyes gave him a driving layup that made it a one-point game with 45.3 seconds to play.

On the next possession, Ross drove and forced a pass through a double-team to Williams under the basket. The pass glanced off Williams’ hands and went out of bounds, giving Penn State possession with 13.2 seconds left.

The Nittany Lions cleared the right side of the floor for Newbill to take Craft off the dribble, and he did, rising above him in the lane for the winning shot.

“I knew they were going to try to stop me from going right,” Newbill said, “so I just made a quick right-to-left crossover and put it up with confidence. Fortunately, it went down.”

bbaptist@dispatch.com

@BBaptistHoops

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