Every time Penn State made a brief run Wednesday night, No. 13 Ohio State had an answer.
Two D.J. Jackson free throws cut the Buckeye lead to three points with 1:52 to go, but the Buckeyes' Jon Diebler, who had missed all six shots he had taken up to that moment, hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to six.
It was a dagger into the heart of the Nittany Lions, who haven't caught a break all season long. Penn State's Talor Battle turned the ball over on the next possession, and the Buckeyes scored 10 unanswered points to close the game.
"I told the kids, it's the same broken record," coach Ed DeChellis told the Penn State Radio Network after the game. "We get to within striking distance, within three with two to go, and we make some crucial mistakes at crucial times."
Ohio State handed the Lions (8-14, 0-10 Big Ten) their 10th straight defeat, 75-62, Wednesday night at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It was the Lions' 12th-straight loss to its rival and
Ohio State's 16th-straight win on its home court.
Wednesday's loss matches the Lions' worst losing streak to open conference play since they dropped 10 games in the 2002-03 season. The Lions dropped 13 consecutive games in 2006-07, but they already had a conference win under their belts.
Buckeyes' star point guard Evan Turner scored 22 second-half points, finishing with a game-high 27. The 6-foot-7 guard and Battle exchanged points with each other, both showing why they're two of the best guards in college basketball.
But whenever Battle and the Lions made a run, Turner answered. The Lions cut the Buckeye lead to seven on four separate occasions in the second half, but the Buckeye guard was too much. He shot 9-for-15 and finished with 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Battle looked equally impressive, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Sophomore guard Chris Babb hit a crucial 3-pointer with 3:18 left to trim the lead to 65-60 and Jackson followed with two free throws.
Battle called Diebler one of the conference's best shooters and said the Lions did not communicate on the crucial 3-point shot he hit with 1:37 to go. DeChellis said he called for Jeff Brooks to foul Buckeye center Dallas Lauderdale to force the 44 percent foul shooter to the line. Instead, Brooks and Sasa Borovnjak both jumped to Lauderdale, who fed Diebler for the 3-pointer.
"It's the little things and the attention to detail that's haunted us all season long," said Battle, who has now scored 20 points in five out of the last six games.
The Lions tightened up their defense in the second half, holding their opponent to 40.7 percent from the field after the Buckeyes opened up shooting 60.9 percent in the first half.
Penn State also outshot the Buckeyes in the second half, hitting on 50 percent of its shots. The offense opened up as Battle attacked the rim and passed to his teammates. Jackson scored double-digits for the fourth straight game, contributing 12 points.
Junior forward Andrew Ott did not play after aggravating a shoulder injury he's battled all season. Junior Drew Jones started in place of Ott, who had started the last six games over Jones. Jones hit all three of his shots, finishing with six points.
Freshman forward Bill Edwards, who started his fifth-straight contest in his home state of Ohio, sprained his ankle in the first half and did not play at all in the second half. DeChellis said he wasn't sure what Edwards' status would be for Saturday's game against Minnesota.
The coach, who owns a 92-117 record at Penn State, stressed how important it would be to get his two starters back as the Lions try to prevent opening up conference play with the worst start in school history.
"I would've loved to win on the road, but for our first win, I want it to be in front of our own fans, at home," Battle said. "Hopefully we can do that Saturday."