Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Complete Sweep, Upend No.22 Buckeyes 65-63
A year ago, Tim Frazier could only stand and watch as Penn State upset No. 4 ranked Michigan.
An injured achilles keeping him out of the action for all but the start of the 2013 season.
Exactly a year later though Frazier stood at the free throw line and drained a shot that would help secure Penn State's 65-63 upset victory over No. 22 Ohio State at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The win is yet another exclamation point on a Big Ten season that began with an ominous 0-6 start. With the victory Penn State claims its first season sweep over Ohio State since 1997-98.
The upset wasn't easy though. The Buckeyes came out of the gate firing, going up by as many as 11 as Penn State struggled with early turnovers. The Nittany Lions found themselves down by that same 11 point margin in their first meeting against the Buckeyes. Down 22-11 with 8:54 left in the first half, Penn State slowly climbed back into the game over the next three minutes.
Penn State would cut the lead to only four following a DJ Newbill dunk with 5:10 left in the first half but the Buckeyes would push the lead back out to seven points quickly threatening to negate the comeback. Jumpers by Donovon Jack and Tim Frazier whittled the lead back down and Ohio State took a two point lead into the break.
Ohio State quickly pushed its lead to seven points in the opening two minutes of the second half. Penn State didn't fold though and a quick run would tie the game at 33-33 with 17:05 to go in regulation. From there, neither team would lead by more than five and Penn State would not relinquish the lead in the game's final 15:15 despite the game being tied on three separate occasions.
Having lost so many games by single possessions, Penn State made the most of its chances. The Nittany Lions countered Ohio State baskets to keep the Buckeyes just out of reach. A Sam Thompson steal and basket with 2:37 to play made it a two point game but a three-point play by Donovon Jack pushed the lead back to five on the next possession.
Ohio State wasn't going to go down without a fight. Two free throws followed by a Frazier turnover put the Buckeyes only a point behind the Nittany Lions with 27 seconds to play. Ross Travis would miss both free throws after an Ohio State foul giving the Buckeyes the ball and a chance to win with 21 seconds left. Lenzelle Smith Jr would miss an open three and the ball would bounce out of bounds to give the Nittany Lions possession.
With seven seconds left, Frazier missed the first of two free throws, making the second. Another open miss by Smith Jr would finish off the night allowing the Nittany Lions to narrowly escape a heartbreaking loss.
Even though Penn State could have lost yet again in the final seconds, the Nittany Lions made the plays they needed to all game long. Penn State out rebounded the Buckeyes 34-25 while outscoring Ohio State on second chance points 15-5. Penn State also shot an effective 38 percent from beyond the arc.
Penn State was led by DJ Newbill's 23 points, and Frazier's 16. The Nittany Lions have rarely won without a third double-figuring scoring option, but timely plays across the roster made Penn State's victory very much a team effort.
"It was great, even last year I felt like I was a part of the game," Frazier said on Thursday night. "I wore my jersey and stormed the court last year with my team as well. To be a part of it tonight means a lot and it is very special for me. I am humbled and thankful for the opportunity to even wear this jersey and come out with a win. Ohio State is a great team with a great coach and this is a big win for us, but being able to do this at home on senior night with my family, my brother D.J. [Newbill] and my teammates makes this very special."
In all, Penn State walks away at 14-14 with three regular season games to go. A noon meeting at the Bryce Jordan Center with Wisconsin is the final home game for the 2013-14 season and the last home game for Frazier. While the Badgers should be favored in the contest, this season in the Big Ten across the board has shown that the only guaranteed wins are the ones you already have.
And as the Nittany Lions continue to prove, it's foolish to ever count them out.