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Ohio State Outlasts Penn State In Defensive Struggle

The Buckeyes didn't have nearly their best offense on Sunday, but grinded out a tough win against a scrappy Nittany Lions team.

The sign of a good team: find a way to win when you're not playing anywhere near your best basketball.

Ohio State shot just 39 percent from the floor, connected on only 3-of-12 3-pointers and made just 24-of-36 free throws, but managed to beat Penn State 61-56 on Sunday afternoon.

That said, once they got the lead mid-way through the first half, Ohio State never trailed the rest of the way. They stretched the lead as large as 10 at 44-34, but a gritty closing stretch from Penn State tightened things up late.

No. 16 Ohio State improved to 11-4 with the win, and a 5-2 mark in the Big Ten. Penn State fell to 8-7, 3-4 in league play.

E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 19 points and he had a slightly better than average day shooting, but the rest of the team really struggled against a stingy Penn State defense. Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Malaki Branham hit just 1-of-7 shots, Justin Ahrens missed three of his four 3-point tries and Zed Key hit only 4-for-11 from the floor.

Still, the Buckeyes made life trying enough on a Nittany Lions team that was missing its best scorer in Seth Lundy.

Ever since the 3-week layoff because of CoVID-19 issues in the Ohio State program, the Buckeyes team that was on a roll through November and early December has been far more Jekyll-and-Hyde in its five games since that break.

Ohio State sweeps the season series with Penn State with Sunday's win. The Buckeyes will be back on the floor on Tuesday evening in a recently scheduled non-conference game to partially make up for those three canceled games. They'll host IUPUI 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening.

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