College Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State – Ohio State Favored
The second-ranked Buckeyes try for their longest conference winning streak in 35 years Wednesday when they visit struggling Penn State.
Ohio State (22-3, 10-1 Big Ten) beat Purdue 63-56 on Saturday for its first eight-game Big Ten winning streak since the 1990-91 season. The Buckeyes have not won nine straight in conference play since a 10-game streak during the 1970-71 season.
The win also moved Ohio State to 16-0 at home and was its 24th straight in Columbus dating to last season.
The Buckeyes have not lost since falling 72-69 at No. 3 Wisconsin on Jan. 9, one of their three defeats in seven road games this season. They lost at then-No. 7 North Carolina on Nov. 29 and at current No. 1 Florida on Dec. 23.
Following Wednesday’s contest, Ohio State will visit Minnesota on Sunday.
The Buckeyes closed Saturday’s game with an 11-4 run, earning a win in a game that was close for most of the second half.
"We weren’t has sharp as we needed. That’s the hard part as a coach knowing the right thing to say, right thing to do," coach Thad Matta said. "It is a valuable lesson for them from the standpoint of consistently being ready."
Freshman phenom Greg Oden played only 21 minutes because of foul trouble and had 14 points and nine rebounds. The 7-foot center leads the team with 15.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game after missing the first seven games of the season because of offseason surgery on his right wrist to repair ligament damage.
Matta said opponents are trying to get Oden in foul trouble and limit his playing time.
"Putting us in that situation, getting him on the bench is obviously advantageous for them both offensively and defensively," he said. "We’ve seen a lot of different angles to try and get him in those situations."
Oden’s high school teammate, Michael Conley, also had 14 points and was named the Big Ten’s co-player of the week along with Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker.
"Sometimes he gets a little frustrated because he’s getting fouled on the other end and not getting calls," Conley said of Oden.
Conley has scored in double figures in a season-high four straight games, averaging 16.3 points while shooting 54.8 percent from the field.
The Buckeyes have won seven straight against the Nittany Lions since a 64-47 loss at Penn State on Jan. 10, 2004. However, Penn State (10-13, 1-9) is likely more concerned with its nine straight losses overall.
The Nittany Lions are coming off Saturday’s 53-51 defeat at Northwestern, and have not won since an 83-57 victory over the Wildcats on Jan. 3.
"It is very, very consuming," coach Ed DeChellis said of the losing streak. "Not a day, a minute, an hour goes by when I’m not thinking about my team, looking at more numbers or different things we might be able to do. I would say it’s very challenging."
The Nittany Lions are looking to avoid their second double-digit losing streak in three years. They dropped 12 in a row to close the 2004-05 season.
Geary Claxton scored 16 points for Penn State on Saturday and leads the team with 16.4 per game.
After hosting Ohio State, the Nittany Lions travel to Wisconsin on Saturday and head to Ohio State on Feb. 21.
No other team has played three consecutive games against top-three ranked teams in at least 10 years.
"No matter who it is, we’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play our best basketball," DeChellis said. "You want to do something special, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that."
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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