Jared Sullinger scored 30 to lead all scorers.

Following an overtime victory from the Michigan Wolverines, the Buckeyes and Purdue locked horns for the right to face the Maize and Blue. Jared Sullinger lead all scorers with an impressive 30 points, and picked up a double double with 12 rebounds, as the Buckeyes defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 88-71. All of Ohio State’s starters scored in double digits tonight, while DJ Byrd led Purdue with 20 points on 4-10 from three point range. Robbie Hummel scored only 6 points and 10 rebounds in what may be his last Big Ten game.

Ohio State started the game playing their style of basketball. After a rough opening tip, the Bucks took advantage of numbers and attacked the rim giving Jared Sullinger an easy layup. William Buford also found an easy high bucket, setting up Deshaun Thomas later for a wide open trey. They coupled the strong offense with tough defense and excellent rebounding that prevented Purdue from finding a basket until more than three minutes had ellapsed.

As a team, the Buckeyes looked renewed following their two away wins. Where the team had struggled to find their groove early in away games, they found traction in this game early and raced ahead of the surprised Boilermakers. Robbie Hummel’s three pointer ended the drought, but failed to open up the OSU defense in any meaningful way. With Purdue’s offense sputtering, Matt Painter was forced to dig deep into his bench looking for some kind of production from his team.

Thad Matta continued to look to his bench early despite this being the late season when most coaches shorten the bench. Sam Thompson came in for Lenzelle Smith early and quickly established himself on the scoreboard with a nice 15 foot jumper from the left side. He was soon joined on the court by fellow bench-mate Evan Ravenel, who subbed in at the five after Jared Sullinger picked up his first foul.

OSU’s offensive success could not last forever. Matt Painter and Purdue made excellent defensive adjustments, including briefly switching their defense to a zone look to confuse the Buckeyes. With their defense suddenly having success, Purdue was able to swing the momentum in their direction and begin to find some points. The Buckeyes simultaneously began to lag on defense being forced to run at Purdue’s quick pace, which began to wear on the Bucks.

Despite the momentary lapse in focus, the Buckeyes came back with a vengence. Before Purdue could blink their attempt to set a frenetic pace came back to bite them. Lenzelle Smith and DeShaun Thomas went crazy on the glass by swiftly rebuilding a seven point lead after Purdue had worked so hard to tie it up. The Boilers didn’t take it lying down and rained in several three pointers, but it wasn’t enough to do more than keep up.

Neither team entered the half with a significant advantage in momentum. While Purdue had weathered the early storm from the Buckeyes, both teams had found excellent success playing their games. Not surprisingly, Purdue found good looks from three all half, draining 6-13 (46.2%), with many of the misses occuring early when the Buckeyes were on their run. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes continue to attack the paint, scoring 60% of their buckets from the floor, and hitting 15 of their 18 hoops from inside the arc.

The teams came out of the half continuing to try to play their respective games. While Purdue succeeded initially by finding a quick three pointer, Ohio State’s defense quickly frustrated their efforts. In fact Aaron Craft’s defense was tough enough to cause Matt Painter to draw a technical foul due to his irritation with OSU’s method of defense. Whether he has a legitimate beef or not, the refs took exception to his method of trying to explain his thinking.

Purdue had changed strategy and begun attacking the basket which had allowed OSU to take advantage of their superior interior defense. Once it was clear that the defense was simply stifling in the paint, Purdue immediately switched back to their long-range shooting. Robbie Hummel swiftly burried a three, his second basket of the game, which spurred the Boilers onto a 7-0 run that began to get into the Buckeyes’ heads.

While the run put the Boilers in striking distance of the Buckeyes they weren’t able to secure a lead. While Purdue continued to jack three’s with intermittent success, Ohio State continue to simply play their game. Finally, when Purdue started to get a little desperate with their shooting, the Buckeyes began to find William Buford for some easy close range buckets that also put him on the line. The emergence of Buford on the scoring column began to wake up the OSU faithful, and forced Painter to take another critical timeout.

Unfortunately for the Boilers, the timeout hurt more than it helped. The Buckeyes came back to the floor and immediately began pushing the ball. While the attempt to outrun Purdue nearly played into their hands on several occasions, the insane pace made it difficult for the Purdue shooters to connect on their long-range attempts. For every shot Purdue missed, OSU made them pay in a big way, quickly running the score up to an 18 point lead at the under four timeout. It turned out to be an insurmountable lead for the struggling Boilers.

The Buckeyes shot 36-59 (61.0%) from the floor and 4-16 (25.0%) from beyond the arc, while Purdue answered with 24-62 (38.7%) and 11-25 (44%) respectively. The Buckeyes outrebounded the Boilers by 10, 38-28, while only committing seven turnovers to Purdue’s 5.

Ohio State will next play Michigan on Saturday, March 10th at around 4PM EST – 25 minutes after the Michigan State/Wisconsin game. You’ll be able to see that game on ESPN.

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