The Buckeyes traveled to West Lafayette, IN to wrap up 2013 and kick off the B1G Conference play. Mackey Arena provides a great college basketball venue, and both teams responded, with Ohio State coming out with a 78-69 win.
Several players had excellent performances today. Ohio State had LaQuinton Ross’ career high 25 points and 12 rebounds, Lenzelle Smith Jr’s 14 points and Aaron Craft’s 10 assists. Craft did this with no turnovers. That’s right, no turnovers. For Purdue, the Johnsons, Ronnie (16 pts) and Teron (13 points) had great games, but center AJ Hammons was outstanding with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Ohio State started out well enough with some good, patient ball movement, resulting in two quick baskets by Amir Williams and LaQuinton Ross. AJ Hammons responded with two free throws and a basket to keep pace.
Offensively, Purdue was having early success with the off guard coming across the key and either taking a jump shot at the foul-line extended or continuing the drive to the basket.
At the 12:00 mark, two free throws by AJ Hammons put Purdue up 17-15, but a tremendous end-to-end play by Aaron Craft resulted in a layup to tie it at 17-17. By the 10-minute timeout, Purdue moved ahead 19-17 on a Bryson Scott jumper. Despite the promising start, the OSU offense was stalling at the line (0-3) and from the perimeter (1-8), with Lenzelle being 0-3 at this point. Not good.
At the 7:35 mark, OSU took the lead 21-19 on a nice in-the-paint feed by Craft (of course) to Marc Loving. Coming out of the time out, an inbound bounce pass from Craft to LQR resulted in a quick layup, moving OSU up 23-19. Unfortunately, Purdue responded with a base-line turnaround, then an end to end layup and Ft by Ronnie Johnson to give Purdue the 24-23 lead.
At the under-4 timeout, Ohio State was clinging to a 30-28 lead. Ohio State’s ball movement was impressive up to this point, having 11 assists in 13 baskets.
A spinning jump shot by Purdue’s Eric Peck at 1:13 tied the game at 32 apiece. a AJ Hammons free throw gave them a lead 33-32 at :23, which lasted almost 23 seconds until Aaron Craft threaded the needle to a cutting ‘Zelle for a layup at the buzzer to get the lead back for OSU, 34-33.
Ohio State shot 43% (13-35) from the filed, hampered by 17% 3-pt (2-12) shooting. They didn’t help themselves by going 2-5 from the free-throw line, either. Of their 15 baskets, 12 were assisted, so the offensive movement had no issues. They’d collected 19 rebounds, but committed 9 fouls and 5 turnovers. At the half, Lenzelle Smith had 10 points, Aaron Craft 7 assists, ans LQR had 6 pts and 6 rbs). Meanwhile, Sam Thompson had a half he’d rather forget; 0-5, missed dunks, a shot blocked and 2 fouls. Yikes.
Meanwhile, Purdue shot 39% (13-33) from the floor, a horrific 11% (1-11) from the perimeter and a respectable 6-8 from the foul line. The Boilermakers snapped up 23 rebounds (9 by AJ Hammons) and committed 6 fouls and 6 turnovers. Purdue was led by Ronnie Johnson’s 9 points and AJ Hammons 9 pts and 9 rbs). Wow.
In the 2nd half, a nice cut Scott and feed Williams move OSU’s lead to 38-35, only to be countered by a Ronnie Johnson FG.
End to end layup at 17:13 gave Ohio State a 42-37 lead and caused Matt Painter to take a “c’mon guys” timeout. At 15;26 a 3-pointer by Terone Johnson tied the game at 44. Meanwhile, OSU kept clanking their perimeter shots this half, bringing them to 2-16 for the game. That, my friends, is a lot of wasted shots.
A breakout layup by Shannon Scott gave the Buckeyes the lead at the 14:10 timeout. A Hammons (no surprise) tipin then tied it at 46. At 12:32, Zelle used his head; he head-faked a 3-pointer, drove to the foul line for the jumper and 1 (which, understandably, was missed).
A nice loose ball pickup by LQR led to a transition bump basket by LaQuinton that featured a behind the back dribble. Of course, the Mackey crowd was not pleased.. An off the dribble layup by LQR on the next OSU possession probably pleased the Mackey Maniacs even less, as OSU moved ahead 52-46.
At the 4:33 mark, OSU was holding on to a 10 point lead, briefly. A Basil Smotherman layup from a nice Hammons post feed moved Purdue to within 7, 67-60 at the 3:36 mark. Moving along, a Hammons offensive put-back pulled the Boilermakers to within 5, 69-64 with 1:32 to play.
A couple back-and-forth baskets moved the score to 73-66 with :25 left as LQR was fouled and went to the line (2-2) to move OSU’s lead to 75-66. Two Lenzelle Smith FT’s, followed by an Aaron Craft FT was capped by a T.Johnson 3-pointer to give us the final margin of 78-69.
There were periods in the game where AJ Hammons had his way offensively by overmatching LQR in the paint, by crashing the offensive boards and getting easy jump shots deep in the paint. With Williams and McDonald on the bench, OSU had no answer to this matchup; nor were they realistically expected to.
Ohio State’s “small lineup” (Craft, Scott, Smith, Loving, Ross) is an interesting combination. While not having the inside “‘power”, they are quick. As difficult a matchup as Hammons proved to be to defend, he had trouble keeping up with play when OSU decided to run.
Ohio State next plays on Saturday January 4th by hosting Nebraska for a 12:00 PM EST start. Be sure to join us at tBBC for a dual Nebrasketball/Army All American Game livechat.