Ohio State Gets Muhammad, Washington Back for Penn State
Ohio State will have a pair of key contributors from its previous blowout of Penn State back when the teams play at noon Saturday, but whether those two or the rest of the OSU roster will play the same as before is a huge unknown.
Head coach Chris Holtmann reinstated both Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington on Friday in hopes they will seamlessly reintegrate for a noon Saturday tip at the Bryce Jordan Center.
"It was always, in my mind, probably going to be a one-game suspension,” Holtmann said. “I wanted to think through it. I wanted to have some additional conversations, but that was always my intent."
Penn State's intentions will not be as noble. Not toward Washington and Muhammad, nor their teammates.
Lions fans never need reach for a reason to work themselves into a frenzy for Ohio State, whether it's football, wrestling or basketball, and the Buckeyes' 106-74 win in early December will only inflame their passions.
“I think this is probably, in a lot of ways, our biggest challenge of the year to date, given how we have struggled there in the past and how good they are," said Holtmann, who is 1-3 against Penn State in two seasons.
"They are tough and a spirited group and well coached. They are athletic. (Lamar) Stevens is an extremely hard match-up. They are certainly going to be hungry for revenge. We need to have good preparation.”
Stevens was a non-factor in the Big Ten opener against OSU, fouling out with 13 minutes left when he protested his fourth personal too vociferously and received a fifth foul via technical.
OSU shot 58 percent from the field and 54 percent on three-pointers, making 13-of-20 after starting 1-of-6.
Kaleb Wesson had 28 points and 10 rebounds, with Andre Wesson adding 15 points and Washington and Muhammad 14 apiece.
"That game was very much an outlier,” Holtmann said. “For us to have 14 threes, that is an outlier in college basketball in general. That’s something our guys, at this point, after they’ve been through a difficult stretch would understand.
“I will remind them it was an outlier. The reality is we will face a completely different Penn State team than what we saw in December.”
Ohio State is different, too.
It was all sunshine and balloons for the Buckeyes when conference play began.
- They were undefeated.
- Their rotation was producing across the board.
- Four players were hitting 40% or better on three-point shots.
- They had yet to lose a game.
All that made OSU (12-5, 2-4) a challenge to defend during its 9-0 start, but it failed to score 60 points in any of four consecutive losses that preceded an 80-68 win over Nebraska on Tuesday.
Penn State (12-4, 2-4) won five straight after its loss in Columbus, but the Lions now need a streak-breaker of their own after losing three in a row to Rutgers, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
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