Penn State is looking to break a long losing streak against a tough Big Ten opponent.
Here are five things to know ahead of the game.
GETTING OFF THE SCHNEID
Penn State started the season with four wins and has since lost five straight. The worst one of those was last Saturday when Bucknell came into Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center 2-7 and 20.5-point underdogs… and left with a win. Penn State (4-5, 0-1) has a chance to get back to .500– both overall and in the Big Ten— and start 1-0 in Big Ten home games under first-year head coach Mike Rhoades.
To do it against a school that Penn State fans don’t much care for would be an added bonus
Kanye West… err… Clary was a role player on Penn State’s first NCAA Tournament team in more than a decade last season, which is hardly unusual for a true freshman. But right now, he’s Penn State’s best player. Clary’s averaging 16.2 points per game and played quite well in Penn State’s Big Ten opener, which turned out to be an overtime loss to Maryland. Clary played 41 minutes and scored 25 points.
Another 25-point performance against Ohio State would be welcome. But to beat Ohio State, Penn State will need significant contributions from players other than Clary. Veterans such as Clary’s backcourt mate, Ace Baldwin, and Puff Johnson, are candidates to have a breakout game. If that happens, Penn State’s chances of beating the Buckeyes drastically go up.
THE BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN
Ohio State comes into Happy Valley with an 8-1 overall record and 1-0 Big Ten mark. OSU’s only loss took place all the way back on Nov. 10. That was a 73-66 loss to then-No. 15 Texas A&M, which also beat Penn State on Thanksgiving Day. Since that loss, Ohio State’s won seven in a row, highlighted by a double-digit win over then-No. 17 Alabama on Black Friday. Ohio State beat Minnesota by 10 in its Big Ten opener this past Sunday. Most recently, Ohio State beat Miami of Ohio by 20 this past Wednesday.
Ohio State has four players averaging in double figures. 6-foot-2 guard Bruce Thornton leads the way by averaging nearly 19 points per game. Roddy Gayle Jr. (14.7), Jamison Battle (13.9) and Zed Key (10) are also factors.
The theme for this Big Ten home opener is simple: It will be a White Out.
B1G HOME OPENER. 𝙎𝙏𝙐𝘿𝙀𝙉𝙏𝙎 𝙒𝙀𝘼𝙍 𝙒𝙃𝙄𝙏𝙀 ⚪️
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) December 8, 2023
HOW TO WATCH
Ohio State comes into this game as a 4.5 point favorite. For Penn State fans who won’t be in the Bryce Jordan Center, here’s how to watch and listen to the game.
Tip-off time: 6
TV: Big Ten Network
TV announcers: Wayne Randazzo (PXP), Jess Settles (analyst).
Radio: Penn State Sports Network
Radio announcers: Steve Jones (PXP), Dick Jerardi (color).