Top 25 basketball • Ohio State improved to 5-2 in the Big Ten.
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State College, Pa. • Left open in the corner, Sam Thompson found an uncontested path to the basket along the baseline and contorted his body around 6-foot-9 center Sasa Borovnjak for a layup and three-point play.
With Big Ten leading scorer Deshaun Thomas having an off day, the lithe 6-7 Thompson stepped up Saturday for No. 14 Ohio State.
He scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, and the Buckeyes took advantage of cold-shooting Penn State for a 65-51 victory.
"I really did the easy part," the sophomore said. "Guys found me, I was wide open and I just knocked down some shots."
Jermaine Marshall had 16 points for the Nittany Lions, who have lost 18 straight to the Buckeyes. Thomas finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, well below his league-leading average of 20.5.
Thompson picked up the slack from the field for Ohio State (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten), while Lenzelle Smith Jr. helped put away pesky Penn State by hitting 5 of 6 from the foul line over the final 4 minutes, 13 seconds.
An 11-minute stretch without a field goal in the first half hurt the Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-8).
"If you told me that we'd hold Deshaun Thomas to 11 points, I'd tell you we're in the game with a chance to win," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.
D.J. Newbill had 15 points and six assists, while Borovnjak added nine points. The Nittany Lions did draw within 59-49 with 2:41 left off two foul shots from Marshall.
But Smith (11 points, eight rebounds) was clutch at the foul line down the stretch, and Thompson hurt the Nittany Lions all day.
He answered one Penn State run with a 3 from the wing to keep the lead at double digits. His acrobatic drive around Borovnjak for the three-point play put Ohio State up 43-27 with about 13:30 left.
"Sam was tremendous today. I really challenged Sam to play his best basketball," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "From the standpoint of what he brought to the table today, I couldn't be happier for him."