Penn State can#039;t find a way to stop Buckeyes Darby

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2003

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State couldn't find a way to stop Ohio State's Brent Darby.

The Buckeye guard, utilizing some new plans coach Jim O'Brien designed to get him more shots, scored 27 points and had seven assists as Ohio State beat the Nittany Lions 76-67 Wednesday night.

The new plays allowed Darby to drive the lane to look for his shot first. If Darby couldn't score, he could either find a teammate on the perimeter or dish it down low. More often than not, Darby got past his defender and had a layup.

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''If I had it, I took it,'' Darby said. ''If I didn't, it went right into a play. I was able to get into the lane and finish sometimes.''

Darby scored 16 first-half points, and in the second half continued driving to the basket and getting layups.

''We need to get him more shots,'' O'Brien said. ''We tried to put in a couple different wrinkles where he can try to score.''

When he didn't score directly off the drive, Darby scored from the foul line, where he was a perfect 11-for-11.

''When he gets the basketball, he can put his head down and create off the dribble,'' Penn State coach Jerry Dunn said. ''He's probably the guy who gets the most out of his abilities in this league.''

Darby not only drove to the basket to score, but to find open teammates. He also made the Nittany Lions' defense collapse, leaving Sean Connolly open on the perimeter. Connolly dutifully knocked down three 3-pointers, finishing with 13 points.

When Darby couldn't find Connolly, Zach Williams and Shun Jenkins were lurking around the basket waiting for a pass or a rebound. They also produced, which was crucial in the Buckeyes' win, since starter Velimir Radinovic was in foul trouble all game and only played 7 minutes. Williams finished with 12 points, and Jenkins had a season-high 17 rebounds.

Ohio State (12-10, 5-6) outrebounded Penn State, 48-29, and the Buckeyes have Darby to thank. When he would drive the lane and draw a double team, it allowed Williams, Jenkins and others to get easy rebounds and putbacks.

''They're one of the better teams in the league getting things off the dribble,'' Dunn said. ''The first thing we wanted to do was take away his (Darby) 3-point look and then you have to guard him.''