Penn State vs. Ohio State Preview

Story posted January 29, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

After picking up their first Big 10 victory of the season, Penn State will travel to Columbus, to take on Ohio State. The Buckeyes secured their first victory in five contests against Illinois, on January 23rd. Both teams will look to win a second straight contest, coming off of a string of losses.

Before their win against the Illini, Ohio State struggled mightily over a two-week period. Their victory ended their four-game losing streak, their first losing streak of that length since 2008. The Buckeyes even dropped a game to Big 10 cellar dweller, Nebraska, during that stretch.

Head coach, Thad Matta’s, squad will try and regain the form they had earlier in the season, when they started 15-0. Ohio State’s 15-game winning streak to start the season, was aided by the lack of non-conference talent they faced. Their best wins, coming against Marquette and Notre Dame, have become less impressive due to those team’s recent struggles.

A big part of Ohio State’s struggles is their lack of offensive weapons. The Buckeyes only have two players averaging double digit points per game, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. During the losing streak, Ohio State averaged just 64 points per game, nine below their season average.

Ross, the athletic, junior wingman, averages 14.1 points per game for the Buckeyes. The Jackson, MS, native, has been the Buckeyes most consistent offensive threat, scoring less than 10 points only twice since November 25th. The senior guard, Smith Jr, is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 points per game. Smith has become a more efficient scorer, shooting a better percentage from the field and the free throw line, than last year.

Despite not being a leading scorer, their most valuable player is senior point guard, Aaron Craft. Craft, the leader of the team, floor general and defensive stopper, does it all for the Buckeyes. The Ohio native is third on the team in scoring, fifth in rebounding and first in dishing out assists and grabbing steals. The heart and soul of the team, Craft, endured his fair share of struggles during the Ohio State losing streak, turning the ball over 19 times in four games.

The Buckeyes have a solid amount of depth, going nine deep on most occasions. Each of the nine averages at least 10 minutes per game. Ohio State has received contributions from many bench players, including freshman Marc Loving.

On paper, Penn State doesn’t look like a 10-10 team. The Nittany Lions have the talent, but lack depth and the ability to close out games. Penn State finally got over the hump with a 58-54 victory over Nebraska, on January 23rd. The Lions earned their first Big Ten victory of the season, in the contest, behind a do-it-all performance from Tim Frazier, who scored 11 points, while handing out six assists and pulling down nine rebounds. Penn State also gained a boost, off the bench from John Johnson.

A win over the Buckeyes would completely change the season for the Nittany Lions. If they want to have any chance against Ohio State, Penn State must play better than they did against Nebraska. However, the Lions have just one road win in the Big Ten, under head coach Pat Chambers in his three years in charge.

Penn State and Ohio State will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, in Columbus.

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey)