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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Buckeyes find shooting touch

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State s Velimir Radinovic tries to get around Penn State s Robert Summers. Radinovic had 10 points as the Buckeyes improved to 14-14, 6-9 in the Big Ten. Ohio State s Velimir Radinovic tries to get around Penn State s Robert Summers. Radinovic had 10 points as the Buckeyes improved to 14-14, 6-9 in the Big Ten.
CHRIS PUTMAN / AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS - Ohio State s guards couldn t make a 3-pointer when the Buckeyes were embarrassed at Penn State two months ago.

Everybody in the back court had trouble hitting a shot, as the group went a combined 0-for-13 from behind the arc and 6-for-31 from the field.

The Buckeyes guards experienced a total role reversal last night while exacting some revenge against the lowly Nittany Lions before a disinterested crowd much smaller than the announced total of 13,689.

Junior guard Tony Stockman set a Value City Arena record with seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points, and sophomore guard J.J. Sullinger added 16 as Ohio State held on for a 71-64 victory in a match-up of two of the Big Ten s worst teams.

Stockman, the Buckeyes leading scorer, was 0-for-5 from 3-point range and 3-10 overall in a 64-47 road loss to Penn State in January. But he scored the first 10 points of last night s game, hitting three treys and a foul shot in the opening 3:48.

He had a chance to make it 12-0 after stealing the ball from Penn State s Ben Luber under the basket, but missed an easy layup.

“They were concentrating on our big men early on and packing it in on defense, and I had some open shots,” said Stockman, who made 8 of 18 shots overall. “After I hit the first one, I felt good. Then I hit the second one and I started to get into a rhythm.

“I just had a good shooting stroke all night.”

Stockman s seven treys bettered the previous arena mark of six, held by OSU s Michael Redd and Scoonie Penn and tied last night by Penn State s Marlon Smith. Stockman has 68 3-pointers this season.

Overall, the Buckeyes five guards combined to make 21 of 38 shots and a season-high 9 of 20 3-pointers while accounting for 59 points. Junior point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham also reached double figures, tallying 11 points for OSU (14-14, 6-9), which had lost four of its last five Big Ten home games.

“This week in practice we wanted to remind our guys what happened the last time we played Penn State,” OSU coach Jim O Brien said. “There was a big window for improvement after the first game and I think we played pretty well tonight.”

OSU s guards made their first five 3-pointers against the Nittany Lions and seven of their first 10.

“They surprised us a little with their success early on,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. “Obviously, we knew Stockman could shoot the ball, but we just didn t do a good job of finding him early on.”

Ohio State, which has to maintain a .500 record to be eligible for the National Invitation Tournament, closes out its regular season at home Sunday against first-place Illinois. The Illini can clinch the regular-season championship outright with a victory.

“If we have any postseason aspirations, it s a must-win game for us,” Ohio State center Velimir Radinovic said.

Despite shooting 53.8 percent last night, the Buckeyes - who improved to 38-1 under O Brien when shooting 50 percent or better at Value City Arena - expanded their 35-27 halftime lead into a 14-point advantage at 61-47 with 7:16 remaining.

But Penn State (9-17, 3-12) made a game of it, pulling within three points at 67-64 on Smith s 3-pointer with 25 seconds left. Smith finished with a game-high 26 points, making 10 of 17 shots and 6 of 8 treys, and the Nittany Lions shot 71.4 percent (10 of 14) from behind the arc.

But OSU scored the final four as Sullinger hit two free throws and Radinovic delivered a monstrous dunk off an assist from Fuss-Cheatham with five seconds left to close out the scoring and hand Penn State its 23rd consecutive Big Ten road loss.



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