Jan. 25, 2012

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Thad Matta, Ohio State head coach
On the team’s strong start
“I think a lot of time the focus is on where we are mentally, physically and energy-wise. We knew Penn State would play hard and physical, and we knew we had to match that and go beyond in order to win. The team did a pretty decent job of that tonight.”

On Aaron Craft’s defense on Tim Frazier
“Aaron was extremely effective for us tonight. I think Frazier had six points with 12 minutes to go in the game. Craft likes challenges on defense, and Frazier certainly is one. We did a good job helping Craft and understanding what [Frazier] was trying to do out there.”

On Sam Thompson’s play
“For as young as Sam is, he gets it. He has a great sense of what he needs to do to help the team. He had a great practice yesterday. He’s continuing to understand his length and athleticism on defense, as well as his role with the other guys when he’s on the court.”

On the rest of the season
“We’re still improving. We need to continue to build team unity and understanding both sides of the ball. Guys are starting to understand their roles better. There are some great challenges ahead for us. Our execution is getting better, which we need to continue improving during practice.”

Aaron Craft, sophomore guard
On his three-pointer that was meant to be a pass
“I got pretty lucky.  For the record, I would much rather have had Sam [Thompson] catch it and dunk it.  I think people get more excited about that.  But I’ll take what I can get.”

On Tim Frazier
“He’s a great player.  It’s definitely not one guy trying to guard him.  It’s all five of us trying to corral him, get the ball out of his hands and hopefully make other people make plays.  I think we did a good job today as a team recognizing where he was.  As good as he is off ball screens, our big guys did a great job hedging and not letting him get by.  It was definitely a team effort.”

On their future in the Big Ten
“Every team we play is a great team.  There’s no off night in the Big Ten, and Penn State is no exception.  Now we are focused on Michigan.  March is a long way off and there’s a lot of time for us to get better.”

On the importance of practice
“I think that in the games we’ve played well, we have had good practices going in.  That’s a big eye opener for our team because we are young.  At the beginning of the year, we didn’t realize how important practice is.  We’re starting to realize that if we have a good week of practice, it spills over into the game.”

Jared Sullinger, sophomore center
On tonight’s game
“It was a very physical game, but they kept me guessing.  I never got comfortable with the double team, but with our guys making shots and plays it was easy for me to score on the inside.”

On teammate Sam Thompson
“It all started in practice with Sam.  He never quit even though he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time at the beginning.  He kept playing hard and he’s known for his energy coming off the bench.  Sam is a great basketball player.”

On Sunday’s game against Michigan
“Michigan is ranked in the top 25 this year, and they were good last year.  They’re growing into a league program.  You always have to get up for Michigan.  For every sport at Ohio State, when we play Michigan it’s always a rivalry.”

Sam Thompson, freshman forward
On the alley-oop that turned into a three for Craft
“That’s how we drew it up in the huddle.  Craft was going to throw it up and it was going to go in.  I was just a decoy.  We had a good laugh about it at halftime.  We joked that he would never, ever do that again in his life no matter how hard he tried.  We executed the play in the second half.”

Patrick Chambers, Penn State head coach
On the struggling offense
“Ohio State had a lot to do with that. We have been playing hard on the road and competing on the road. We have been struggling scoring on the road. I said earlier today even though they (Ohio State) don’t have the shooters they did a year ago, collectively, as a unit, they play hard and they defend. Every shot was contested and they sped us up. People don’t see that. They speed us up on layups and they speed us up on jump shots. They are athletic and quick.”

On Tim Frazier
“(Aaron) Craft did a great job on him. Going into yesterday I had a couple of our second team guys really get after Tim (Frazier) and play tough. That is the way Craft plays. I think he got into Tim a little bit. He got into him mentally and physically. Tim kept fighting because he is the leader on our team. Tim needs to come every night.  Unfortunately, he has a tough job for this team and he can’t have any nights off.”

On defending Jared Sullinger
“We were mixing it up at media time outs. We were deciding when to go (double team) and when not to go because (William) Buford is such a good three-point shooter. It is very difficult, but we tried to mix it up. He is a wide body and a big guy. He does a great job sealing. You watch it on film and tell your guys to out-work and front him and make him work even harder. He is a big time player, there is no question about it.”