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Ohio State freshman forward Kaleb Wesson (34) works his way into the paint in the first half of the game against Maryland on Jan. 11 in the Schottenstein Center. Dakich made three of four three point attempts in the first half aiding Ohio State to a 91-69 win. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorNo. 13 Ohio State (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) has survived a few scares. On Jan. 17, it came within four points of losing to Northwestern in the final minute in an eventual 71-65 win and was trading leads with Nebraska Monday, until pulling away late to a 64-59 win.Now it welcomes a struggling Penn State (13-7, 3-4 Big Ten), which has lost four of its past six games, to the Schottenstein Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, with eyes set on a 10-0 start to Big Ten play.Projected StartersPenn State:G — Jamari Wheeler — Freshman, 6-foot-1, 170 lbs., 3.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apgG — Tony Carr — Sophomore, 6-foot-5, 204 lbs., 18.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.8 apgG — Shep Garner —Senior, 6-foot-2, 196 lbs., 10.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.4 apgF — Mike Watkins — Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-9, 254 lbs., 13.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 0.7 apgF — Lamar Stevens — Sophomore, 6-foot-8, 226 lbs., 15.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.0 apgOhio State:G — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 13.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.4 apgG — Kam Williams — Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 185 lbs., 7.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.5 apgF — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 19.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.3 apgF — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apgC — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs., 11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apgScouting Penn StateThe Nittany Lions have been involved in plenty of close games this season. Nine of their 21 games have been decided by single digits, and two have gone into overtime.Part of the reason they are in so many close games has been their defense. Penn State has the 43rd-best defensive efficiency in the country and has held opponents to just a 47 percent effective field goal percentage (37th-best), according to the advanced statistics website KenPom.com. It also ranks in the top 25 in blocking and steal percentages.However, this defense matches up poorly against Ohio State. It typically plays man-to-man, a type of defense Ohio State has flourished against this season. The best way to slow down Ohio State’s 31st-best offensive attack has been to run a zone defense. Penn State’s offense also will not match up well against Ohio State’s defense. Though the Nittany Lions have shot 37.4 percent from the 3, they generate 54.4 percent of their offense from inside the arc, the 57th-highest rate in the nation.Teams that have been able to beat Ohio State do so from long range, with 36.4 percent of opponents’ points coming from 3-point range, 36th-highest in the country. Opposing teams have mustered only the 257th-highest 2-point percentage in its point distribution at 46.9 percent.Monitoring Kaleb Wesson’s minutesOhio State has relied heavily on freshman center Kaleb Wesson this season. After sophomore center Micah Potter injured his ankle in the fourth game of the season, Wesson took over as the starter and has not let up.As a starter, Wesson has averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game. While the numbers don’t jump out, Wesson has become a better defender and has avoided foul trouble more. He has fouled out three times as a starter, but only once in his past 10 games.Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said that even though Wesson has shown improvements and has been a key cog in the team’s success this season, he still does not want to put much pressure on his young big man by playing him too much.“It’s a lot to expect a kid of his size as a freshman really even to play 20 minutes,” Holtmann said. “I think his minutes are probably where we’d like for them to be. I think sometimes he could play a little more, sometimes a little less depending on how he’s playing. He’s done a very good job with the minutes, but I wouldn’t want to put 30 minutes on him right now as a freshman.”Wesson’s conditioning has improved, but it is clear after five minutes on the court that he gets worn out. He starts to breathe heavily and is slower to post and seal, meaning the team needs to bring in a fresher defender to maintain solid interior play. As he continues to develop and adjust to the workload, Wesson will turn his raw tools into game skills and be able to keep using those tools later into games, Holtmann said.“He’s so gifted with his hands and I think his feet can get better,” Holtmann said. “They’re not bad right now, but they’ve got to get a lot better in the offseason. His explosiveness, his movement. But I think that you can tell pretty early on when he’s [tired].”

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