Mahaffey, Gayle spark fast start as Ohio State beats Penn State 79-67

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Evan Mahaffey, a sophomore transfer from Penn State, and Roddy Gayle Jr. each scored 16 points to help Ohio State beat the Nittany Lions 79-67 on Saturday afternoon.

The win gave Chris Holtmann his 250th career victory and his 136th win in seven seasons as head coach of the Buckeyes.

Penn State came into the game after knocking off No. 11 Wisconsin and looked to sweep the season series after erasing an 18-point second-half deficit to eke out an 83-80 win at State College. Ohio State came into the game on a three-game losing streak, but dispelled any lasting effects right from the tip.

The Buckeyes opened the game with a 16-0 run over the first 6:30, with Gayle scoring six of the first eight points and Mahaffey the next six. The Nittany Lions got within 10 points on Nick Kern Jr.’s layup with 2:08 left in the first half to make it 29-19, but Jamison Battle and Gayle each answered with a jumper and Ohio State went into intermission up 33-19.

Ohio State built the lead to as much as 23 points after Mahaffey’s layup with 6:51 left made it 68-45. But Penn State clawed back. Puff Johnson hit from deep and followed a Qudus Wahab dunk with a layup to make it 68-52. The Nittany Lions hit three more 3-pointers in the next few minutes and got within single digits for the first time since the four-minute mark of the first half, but they would get to within no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

Penn State leads the Big Ten, forcing an average of 16.39 turnovers per game and scoring a conference-best average of 17.7 points off turnovers. Ohio State committed just six turnovers and allowed the Nittany Lions just five points.

Felix Okpara pulled down 14 rebounds and scored eight points and Battle added 11 points and six rebounds. Zed Key added 10 points off the Ohio State bench. The Buckeyes were 27 of 59 (45.8%) from the field but just 3 of 18 from behind the arc.

Clary and Johnson each hit 3 of 4 from behind the arc and each finished with 13 points. Kern had 12 points and Ace Baldwin Jr. added 10. Penn State shot 26 of 70 (37.1%) from the floor, including 11 of 24 from distance.

Ohio State plays at Nebraska Tuesday. Penn State returns home to play host to Minnesota Saturday.

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