Jan. 25, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Jared Sullinger had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 4 Ohio State took advantage of Penn State’s slow start to roll to a 78-54 victory on Wednesday night.

The Buckeyes (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten) won their third in a row and fifth in six games while tuning up for Sunday’s big home showdown with No. 20 Michigan. The Wolverines, Ohio State and Michigan State came into the week tied for the top spot in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions paid tribute to Joe Paterno by wearing black bands on their jerseys. Paterno, Penn State’s football coach for 46 years and the winner of a major-college record 409 games, died Sunday at age 85. A public viewing and funeral was held earlier on Wednesday.

William Buford added 15 points and Aaron Craft had 11 – all in the first half – as the Buckeyes built a lopsided lead.

Big Ten scoring leader Tim Frazier had 16 points and Jermaine Marshall 14 for Penn State (10-12, 2-7), which has lost its last 17 meetings with Ohio State.

In the waning moments, Ohio State’s student section prepped for the game against the Buckeyes’ chief rival by singing “We Don’t Give A Damn For the Whole State of Michigan.”

The Buckeyes improved to 15-0 at home this season while running their home winning streak to 37 in a row – the second-longest streak in the country behind Kentucky’s 47 straight.

Already ahead 38-18 at halftime, Ohio State benefited from a flagrant foul and a technical foul against the Nittany Lions in the opening 2 minutes of the second half.

Frazier was called for the flagrant foul when he swung an elbow that caught Craft in the jaw. Moments later, first-year coach Patrick Chambers was whistled for yelling at the officials.

Sullinger had a layup and a dunk – both off assists from swingman Sam Thompson – in a 7-0 run that swelled the Buckeyes’ lead to 56-29. From then on, a crowd of 16,907 was just biding its time before heading for the parking lots.

Penn State endured a miserable first half, shooting just 22 percent (7 of 32) and falling behind by as many as 23 points.

The Nittany Lions had just one field goal and two points over the first 8 minutes and were outscored 15-2. They came in shooting 39 percent from the field for the season but made only one of their first 14 field goals.

Frazier was dogged wherever he went by Buckeyes defenders. He was 2 of 9 from the field at halftime.

Craft opened the scoring with a spinning reverse layup off an assist from Sullinger, who made it 4-0 with a baby hook. After Buford hit a pair of foul shots, Deshaun Thomas added a short jumper for an 8-0 lead.

Marshall, who had half of the Nittany Lions’ points at the break, hit a perimeter jumper to finally break the ice at the 15:02 mark. After the Buckeyes coasted to a 24-6 lead, he hit back-to-back outside jumpers.

But the Buckeyes were the story of the opening half. Craft, who hit his career high of 19 against Penn State last January, had 11 at the break on 4-of-4 shooting from the field. Buford chipped in with eight points and five rebounds, while Sullinger had seven points and eight boards and Thomas had six and six.

Penn State is in the midst of a stretch of three straight games vs. Top 25 teams, two on the road. The Nittany Lions lost at No. 11 Indiana 73-54 on Sunday and play No. 25 Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The Buckeyes finished up hitting half of their 50 shots from the field. Penn State mustered just 31.3 percent (20 of 64).

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