University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - D'Angelo Russell racked up 28 points and carried Ohio State in the second half as the 23rd-ranked Buckeyes rallied for a 77-67 victory over Penn State.
The sensational freshman did most of his damage during a 29-6 swing that turned a 38-29 deficit into a 14-point Buckeyes lead just past the midway stage of the second half. Russell accounted for 17 points during the game- deciding burst, which helped Ohio State (22-8, 11-6 Big Ten) remain in the hunt for a double-bye in next week's Big Ten Tournament.
Ohio State, which hosts conference leader and sixth-ranked Wisconsin Saturday in its regular-season finale, used a similar formula to down Purdue three days prior. The Buckeyes overcame a 12-point halftime deficit in that one, with Russell tallying 17 of his 28 points after the break.
"He's shown throughout the course of this season that he can have some moments like that where he really gets going," Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta said of Russell. "The guys did a good job finding him, our execution the second half was probably as good as it's been in a long time."
Jae'Sean Tate and Shannon Scott added 13 points each for Ohio State, with Scott contributing seven assists.
D.J. Newbill eclipsed the career 2,000-point mark for Penn State (15-15, 3-14) in his final game at the Jordan Center, and finished with 17. Fellow senior Ross Travis posted 14 points and eight rebounds in defeat.
The Nittany Lions claimed their nine-point advantage following an 8-0 run to begin the second half, but Ohio State netted the next six points before Russell took over the game.
He hit two free throws and buried a 3-pointer that sent the Buckeyes in front by a 40-38 count, then sank two more treys on consecutive possessions after Penn State had reclaimed a 42-40 edge.
Russell later converted a layup and free throw off a steal that pushed the margin to eight, and capped Ohio State's mammoth run with another triple that followed a 3-pointer from Scott. The back-to-back long-distance buckets had the Buckeyes up 58-44 with nine minutes left.
"I thought we played really well for thirty minutes," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers remarked. "Russell took over the game. That was the difference and then everybody got hot. It seemed like we couldn't get a stop for a while there."
Penn State did get within single digits with time winding down, as two Shep Garner layups around a pair of Newbill free throws trimmed the lead to 71-62 with under two minutes to go. However, Ohio State went 6-of-6 from the foul line over the remaining time to hold on.
A back-and-forth first half featured several momentum swings, with Tate and Russell leading an 11-2 run that put the Buckeyes up 15-8 seven minutes in.
Penn State then hit five straight shots to start a 15-3 surge, and scored six points in a row later on to open up a 29-20 advantage. The Lions failed to make a basket over the final 3:21 of the half, though, as Ohio State finished the stanza on a 9-1 surge to close within one.
The win was Matta's 297th as Ohio State's head coach, tying him with Fred Taylor (1959-76) for the most in program history. Matta will go for career victory No. 400 Saturday against Wisconsin ... Penn State has now lost seven straight to ranked teams since a 63-53 home decision over the Buckeyes on Feb. 27 of last season, also on Senior Night ... Newbill reached the 2,000-point mark with two free throws with 11:37 left in the first half ... Garner ended with 13 points for the Nittany Lions, who went 3-of-17 from 3-point range.