Penn State coach Patrick Chambers had one belief and another suspicion about Kaleb Wesson entering Saturday’s Big Ten opener.
The Ohio State big man was averaging slightly more than one three-point basket per game and had scored 28 total points in four career games against Nittany Lions center Mike Watkins. Although Chambers said he spent half the night drawing up what he hoped would be the winning last-second play, he felt confident that Watkins could corral Wesson one-on-one in the lane and doubted that Wesson would hit more than one or two three-pointers.
Instead, Wesson scored a season-high 28 points and hit a career-high four three-pointers, and the sixth-ranked Buckeyes handed Penn State a 106-74 loss.
It marked the first time the Buckeyes (9-0) had topped 100 points against a Big Ten team since a 104-69 win against Penn State on Jan. 5, 2006, and was the most points allowed by a Chambers-coached Penn State team in regulation.
Wesson led the way, but he had plenty of help. The Buckeyes shot 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from three-point range as sophomores Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. also hit four each.
“It feels special,” Wesson said. “You’ve got guys that you love out there being successful. You see the bench going crazy when guys are scoring, and that’s just love.”
The Buckeyes never trailed against the Nittany Lions (7-2) as Wesson came out firing. He hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, scored in the lane one possession later and then added a drive from the three-point line to help build a 9-5 lead.
With the Buckeyes ahead 30-17 and 5:31 to play in the first half, Wesson came out after picking up his second foul, and the Nittany Lions scored 18 points the rest of the way to pull within 46-35 at halftime.
They got within 63-55 before senior Andre Wesson kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound that culminated with a Washington three-pointer with 12:16 remaining.
“I was about to get back (on defense),” the older Wesson said. “I’m glad I didn’t. I got the board, and CJ (Walker) made a great pass to Duane in the corner and kind of got us going, that energy play.”
The Buckeyes scored 43 points in the final 12:16, a number aided by the absence of Penn State forward Lamar Stevens. A first-team all-conference player last season, Stevens was called for his fourth foul with 13:26 to play and expressed some displeasure. It earned him a technical, fouling him out of the game with Ohio State ahead 60-50.
“Obviously, Stevens getting into foul trouble really helped us,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “He’s one of the toughest matchups in the country. As I’ve said a number of times, players win games. I thought we just had some incredible performances today that made it really difficult for them to guard us, and we were always able to keep them at a distance.”
The Buckeyes will take a break for finals before going to Minnesota on Dec. 15 for their next game.