Penn State Own Paint in 2nd Half Down Ohio State

Penn State Own Paint in 2nd Half beat Ohio State

by: Steven Stremming

Penn State overcome a 13-point Buckeye lead after midway in the 1st half, to come storming back with a controlled offense that went through the paint to pull out a stunning 71 to 68 victory in the final game of the night of the BiG Ten Men’s Conference Championship held at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Penn State guards were active and continued to drive and pull up in the paint to shorten the gap between the two teams in the second half. Another strong effort by John Harrar on the boards also helped in the comeback.

Leading the way for the Nittany Lions was Sam Sessoms 18, Jalen Pickett and twelve each from John Harrar and Myles Dread. Harrar led the team in rebounding with nine.

Ohio State was led by E J Liddell’s 25 points and 11 rebounds, Malaki Branham’s 16 and Joey Brunk’s ten.

Penn State Post Game Press Conference

Ohio State Post Game Press Conference

Nittany Lions Rally to Defeat Ohio State 71-68 in Big Ten Tournament

Penn State advances to Friday’s quarterfinals against third-seeded Purdue


INDIANAPOLIS – Despite trailing by as much as 13 points in the game including an 11-point deficit in the second half, the 11th-seeded Penn State men’s basketball team willed itself to a 71-68 victory over sixth-seeded Ohio State in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.


The Nittany Lions (14-16) shot 61.5 percent in the second half to mount a comeback for the second-straight night and knock the Buckeyes (19-11) out of the conference tournament.


With the win, Penn State advances to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2018, where they will take on No. 3 seed Purdue Friday evening at 9 p.m. ET.


Penn State had winning efforts from several players, including senior guard Sam Sessoms who led the team with 18 points on 7-12 shooting. He and senior guard Jalen Pickett, who had 16 points, were both extremely effective attacking the basket and scoring in close. Penn State outscored Ohio State 32-14 in the paint, including a 24-10 advantage in the second half.


Graduate student John Harrar made a major impact with 12 points and nine rebounds, with no bigger rebound and basket than his put-back layup between four Buckeyes with 1:23 remaining to extend Penn State’s advantage.


Senior guard Myles Dread had a great night on both sides of the court with 12 points, including a 3-3 mark from three-point range, and stout defense that included a team-best two steals.



Credit Source: Penn State University Athletics

  • After a bit of a slower start from both teams in the opening minutes, Ohio State caught fire for an 8-0 run over a 1:51 span to lead 15-4 with 11:29 left in the first half. EJ Liddell’s 10 points plus five Nittany Lion turnovers put Penn State in the early hole.
  • Penn State pulled back within single digits at 20-12 after Dread hit a three in transition and Sessoms found the bottom of the net with a floater. The Nittany Lions continued to whittle away at the margin through the under-four timeout after Pickett and Harrar made shots in the paint to make it 24-18 with 3:52 in the half.
  • Sessoms added an acrobatic layup get Penn State within as close as five with 1:24 on the clock, but Ohio State ended the half with five of the next six points to take a 33-24 advantage into the break.
  • The Nittany Lions used a 10-2 run early in the second half to make it a one-possession ball game. Dallion Johnson floated in a shot and Harrar bullied his way through a foul for an and-one bucket. Pickett capped the run with another jumper in the painted area to make it 39-36 Buckeyes with 16:03 to play.
  • Penn State continued to hang around after stringing together some timely stops after Ohio State lengthened their lead back to nine. Penn State pieced together a 6-0 run when Jaheam Cornwall drove to the basket and scored through contact and Sessoms followed with a pair of made jump shots to make it a one possession game, 51-48, with 8:00 left.
  • Penn State did not lead in the contest until the 5:57 mark in the second half. One possession after a 3-pointer from Dread, Seth Lundy dropped his first basket of the night from beyond the arc to put the Nittany Lions in front 56-54.
  • Sessoms continued to work his offensive magic with more great attacks at the basket. He rolled in a fast-break layup and got fouled for a three-point play and added another lay in to reach 18 points on the night with 4:26 remaining. PSU held a 59-56 advantage at that point.
  • Penn State maintained a slim 64-62 advantage with only 1:23 remaining looking for a big basket. Sessoms’ jumper missed the mark, but Harrar out-hustled four Buckeyes for the offensive rebound and scored on a the put-back to make it a two-possession game.
  • The Nittany Lions closed the tournament victory making five of their last six free throws and keeping Ohio State from making any ranged baskets to close the gap as Penn State capped the victory.



  • Penn State came back to earn the win despite a double-digit deficit for the fourth time this season. The Nittany Lions earned a double-digit comeback in the Big Ten Tournament for the second-straight season. Penn State won their first-round matchup against Nebraska March 10, 2021 despite a 14-point halftime deficit.
  • The tournament victory over the Buckeyes marks Penn State’s third all-time win over OSU in the postseason, including back-to-back wins. The last was Penn State’s 69-68 win in the 2018 BTT quarterfinals.
  • All seven tournament matchups between the two programs have been decided by single-digit margins. The win also snaps a four-game losing skid for Penn State against the Buckeyes.
  • The Nittany Lions outscored Ohio State 47-35 in the second half and shot 61.5 percent from the field in the term.
  • Sessoms’ 18-point effort was his sixth double-digit scoring performance in the last seven games. It is also his fourth-straight Big Ten Tournament game with 10+ points. He now has 1,698 career points.
  • On his sixth rebound of the game in the second half, Jalen Pickett became just the fourth active player in Division I men’s basketball to reach 1,500 points, 500 assists, and 500 rebounds in his career.



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