Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Penn State Nittany Lions face off against another member of the Top-25 on Wednesday night, as they challenge the 23rd-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Big Ten Conference play at Value City Arena.
Up until the end of January, the Nittany Lions had played just a single ranked squad (Wisconsin), but now the team is in the midst of facing four ranked programs in a span of five games. Penn State, which will take on Maryland and Wisconsin during the next week, is coming off a 56-43 win over Nebraska at home. The victory snapped a brief two-game slide for the Lions.
As for the Buckeyes, who were tied with Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue for second place in the Big Ten standings, they have won seven of their 11 league bouts, including a 79-20 thumping of Rutgers this past Sunday. The win was the fourth in the last five outings, the one setback being a two-point loss to Purdue on the road to begin play in the month of February.
Ohio State leads the all-time series by a 29-14 margin, and has been victorious in all but four of the 19 games played at home. However, the Nittany Lions completed the regular-season sweep in 2013-14 by taking a 71-70 overtime affair in Columbus, and then capturing a 65-63 win in Happy Valley.
During just their third conference win of the campaign, the Nittany Lions were led by Geno Thorpe who tallied 14 points, followed by Brandon Taylor and D.J. Newbill with 11 apiece. Newbill, who also tied for the team lead with six rebounds, was charged with six of the squad's 16 turnovers. Defensively, PSU limited the visitors to only 29.4 percent shooting from the floor, including 2-of-20 behind the 3-point line.
Newbill, who is one of only two players to have started every conference game for the Nittany Lions, is also the lone double-digit scorer for the program with 20.3 ppg. One of the top scorers in the Big Ten, Newbill is also pacing the group in rebounds (5.1 rpg), assists (33) and steals (15) in league play. Unfortunately, as a unit Penn State is producing only 64.2 ppg, which is slightly below the 64.9 ppg being allowed to those conference foes.
For just the fourth time in Ohio State history, a triple-double was put together when the Buckeyes dismissed Rutgers as D'Angelo Russell scored a team-best 23 points, handed out a career-high 11 assists and cleared 11 boards for the visitors. Also having a strong offensive showing for OSU was Jae'Sean Tate with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, followed by Keita Bates-Diop who came within a rebound of a double-double with his 14 points, to go along with three blocked shots in just 19 minutes off the bench.
A favorite to take home player of the year honors in the Big Ten, Russell is pacing the Buckeyes in both scoring and rebounding with 21.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest during league outings. But more than that, the 42.5 percent shooter out on the perimeter is also first in the assists department with 61, against only 27 turnovers. Tate, a part-time starter, accounts for another 10.5 ppg as he shoots better from the floor (.600) than he does the free-throw line (.595).