Ohio State pulverized Penn State tonight, 78-54. The Nittany Lions were just overmatched, as Ohio State improved to 6-2 in the Big Ten and 18-3 overall.
It was a good victory for the Buckeyes, who have won their last three games resoundingly after a tough loss to Illinois. Tonight, the Ohio State offense was clicking, and for the third game in a row the Buckeyes’ defense held an opponent to 20 points or less in the first half. The Buckeyes pulled away early, led by 20 at halftime, and Penn State never made it close during the second half. Jared Sullinger scored 20 points and was unstoppable inside, William Buford and Aaron Craft also hit double figures, Deshuan Thomas chipped in 9 and had some fine assists and rebounds, and the Ohio State bench got plenty of playing time as a total of 10 players scored.
The Buckeyes currently are tied for the Big Ten lead, but their challenges gets tougher starting now. Six of their last 10 Big Ten games are against three ranked teams — no. 11 Michigan State, no. 22 Michigan, and no. 25 Wisconsin. Those just happen to be the three teams vying with the Buckeyes for the Big Ten lead. In that stretch Ohio State also plays Illinois, which knocked off the Buckeyes two weeks ago, as well as always tough Purdue. This is the stretch of games that will determine whether the Buckeyes are contenders or pretenders.
The first big game is Sunday, when the Michigan Wolverines come to the Schott. Playing the arch-rival Wolverines is motivation enough — but Michigan also just happens to be tied with the Buckeyes for the Big Ten lead.