E.J. Liddell tallied 19 and eight rebounds and No. 16 Ohio State held off Penn State 61-56 on Sunday afternoon in a Big Ten Conference contest in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes (11-4, 5-2 Big Ten) also got 10 points from Zed Key as they improved to 8-0 at home.
Sam Sessoms led Penn State (8-7, 3-4) with 15 points and Jalen Pickett added 11.
The Nittany Lions played without forward Seth Lundy, who is not only the team's leading scorer (14.1 points per game) but its best defender who was expected to guard Liddell. No reason was given for Lundy's absence.
Despite the absence of Lundy, Penn State held Ohio State well below its 75.6 scoring average entering the game.
The Buckeyes were up 56-49 after Kyle Young made a pair of free throws with 1:05 remaining.
Dallion Johnson answered with a layup for Penn State to get within 56-51 with just under a minute left.
Jamari Wheeler, a graduate transfer who spent the previous four seasons playing for Penn State, made four consecutive free throws to seal the win.
Free throws were a big part of the outcome. Ohio State was 24 of 36 from the line (66.7 percent) while Penn State made 8 of 14 free throws (57.1 percent).
The Buckeyes doubled a five-point halftime lead to 44-34 before the Nittany Lions made a charge. They pulled to within 51-48 when Myles Dread's first points of the game came on 3-pointer with four minutes left.
Ohio State led 27-22 at the half despite missing all six field goal attempts in the final 5:52.
The Buckeyes hit 33.3 percent (9 of 27) from the floor while Penn State was slightly worse at 29.6 percent (8 of 27) in the first 20 minutes. They also combined to make 4 of 20 shots beyond the arc.
Ohio State has won six of the last seven meetings, including defeating the host Nittany Lions 76-64 on Dec. 5.
--Field Level Media