2016-01-26 / State/National Sports

Ohio State coach pushes right buttons over PSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Thad Matta pushed a couple of buttons to help the Buckeyes beat Penn State 66-46 on Monday night and snap a two-game losing streak.

The first came two days before the game, when he sat down Keita Bates-Diop to talk about a scoreless performance against Purdue his last time out.

“I told him ‘I need you to be more aggressive,”’ Matta said.

The sophomore forward took the message to heart and responded with a game-high 22 points against the Lions.

“When he said that, I didn’t want to let him down, come out and do the same thing again,” Bates-Diop said. “The talk definitely helped.”

He found his shooting stroke early, scoring 13 points in the first half.

That included a 3-pointer less than three minutes in that put Ohio State (13-8, 5-3) on top for good.

Bates-Diop finished the night 8 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 7 from long range.

Jae’Sean Tate added 15 points for Ohio State, while Marc Loving scored 11.

Brandon Taylor led Penn State (11-10, 2-6) with 11 points.

Matta changed his starting lineup, inserting A.J. Harris at point guard for Jaquan Lyle and Daniel Giddens at center for Trevor Thompson.

While they combined for only nine points, both found other ways to impact the game. Giddens hauled down a gamehigh nine rebounds while Harris handed out four assists.

Tate called Harris, a 5-foot-9 freshman from Dayton, “the head of the snake.”

Ohio State harassed the Nittany Lions into a 33 percent shooting night. The visitors particularly struggled from 3-point range, going 4 of 25 (16 percent).

“I thought they loaded up inside, made it very tough for us to post up,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “We kicked out and we didn’t make ‘em. They had five guys in the paint and did a really good job of taking away what we’re good at. Give Thad credit.”

Ohio State outscored Penn State 22-8 over a 12-minute span in the middle of the first half to extend a 7-6 lead to 29-14, but the Nittany Lions recovered.

PSU enjoyed a 12-4 advantage in the last five minutes of the first half to go to the locker room trailing by only seven.

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