Not So Memorable
COLUMBUS — It wasn’t a memorable game for Jon Diebler — until the very end.
The Ohio State guard had misfired all night and didn’t have an assist or a rebound in 40 fruitless minutes. But the last shot he took, and the only one he made, saved the day for the 13th-ranked Buckeyes.
Evan Turner scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half and Diebler hit a critical 3-pointer to lead No. 13 Ohio State to a 75-62 victory over Penn State on Wednesday night.
Diebler had not scored and was 0 for 6 from the field until he hit a shot from behind the arc with 1:29 left to give the Buckeyes some breathing room after Penn State (8-14, 0-10 Big Ten) had cut what was once a 13-point lead to 65-62.
“I was thinking, ’This one’s bound to go in,”’ said Diebler, Ohio’s career prep scoring leader with 3,208 points. “I always feel that the next one’s going to go in.”
His basket started the Buckeyes (17-6, 7-3) on a 10-0 run to close the game and handed the Nittany Lions their 10th straight loss.
“It was just one of those games where they weren’t falling,” Diebler said. “We didn’t play our best, but you have to give Penn State credit. Still, we won. That’s all that matters.”
William Buford added 19 points and David Lighty had 12 for the Buckeyes, who have won their last six conference games and have beaten the Nittany Lions in their last 12 meetings.
Talor Battle had 24 points and David Jackson 12 for luckless Penn State.
“History kind of repeats itself,” said Nittany Lions coach Ed DeChellis, whose team has played on even terms with almost every team in the conference but has yet to pull out a win. “We hung in there as long as we could. We’re down three and what’s-his-name hit a big shot — his only shot of the game.”
Ohio State improved to 14-0 at home this season, where it is shooting 54 percent from the field.
The Buckeyes scored eight of the first 10 points and never trailed, then got big buckets from Turner time and again in the second half whenever the Nittany Lions threatened to slice into the lead.
But Penn State, down 12 at halftime, never really went away. The Nittany Lions cut the lead to seven points four times before finally narrowing it to 65-62 on two free throws by Jackson with 1:53 remaining.
Ohio State worked the ball around before Turner — who added 10 rebounds and six assists — found Diebler open in front of the Buckeyes bench. The junior hit nothing but net.
Turner then added three free throws and Buford four to close out the game.
Battle and Turner were teammates on the U.S. World University Games team this summer. They guarded each other off and on throughout the game and seemed to enjoy attacking each other.
“It’s tough. He’s been losing,” Turner said of the losses piling up on his friend. “I know when we lost a couple around here it seemed like there were some gray clouds over our heads. He probably feels like it’s a thunderstorm or a lightning strike.”
Battle, like Turner, also flirted with a triple-double, adding nine rebounds and seven assists.
Asked if anyone can guard Battle, DeChellis said, “I don’t know. Can anyone stay in front of Turner? Both kids make their teammates better. It was fun to see two top players in the league go at each other like that.”
The Buckeyes built their early lead on a 3-pointer by Lighty, three points from Turner and a vicious tomahawk dunk by Buford — and never trailed again.
Penn State’s Bill Edwards, an Ohio native coming off a career-best 10-points, 13-rebounds effort in a loss at No. 10 Purdue on Sunday, limped off the court at the 11:26 mark with Ohio State on top 15-8 at the time. He twisted an ankle and did not return.
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta didn’t have any doubts when he saw Diebler go up for his last shot.
“I knew the odds were he had to make it,” he said. “We didn’t shy away from Jon. He’s a shooter.”
DeChellis saw the most recent game as similar to the nine losses before it.
“That’s kind of the way things have gone,” he said.