No. 3 Purdue is no longer unbeaten in Big Ten play thanks to a gutsy comeback performance by No. 14 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes used a 25-10 run across the final 10 minutes of the game to steal one from the Boilermakers, 64-63, at Mackey Arena on Wednesday night. The loss snapped Purdue’s 19-game winning streak and pushed Ohio State into first place in the Big Ten.
It was back-and-forth throughout most of the first half with both teams putting together impressive runs at times. Purdue used a 9-to-2 run to build a nine point lead late in the first half, however, the Buckeyes would respond by scoring the final seven points to make it 31-29 at the break.
The second half featured just as much excitement as the opening frame. Purdue looked like they were going to run away with it, building a 14-point lead halfway through the second half. However, Ohio State was able to battle back and scored the game-winning bucket on a putback tip by Keita Bates-Diop with 2.8 seconds left in the game.
With tonight’s win Ohio State improves to 12-1 in the Big Ten, which is where Purdue also sits after the loss. Let’s take a look at a few takeaways from this game.
What We Learned:
1) Buckeyes proved they are resilient
What a gutsy performance by Ohio State on Wednesday night. The Buckeyes had their backs against the wall at the midway point of the second half and they responded with an incredible run.
Ohio State was able to find a way to hold Purdue’s high-profile offense to only 10 points across the final 10:15 of the game. That alone is incredibly tough to do. Then, they got some key buckets from a wide array of players. The Buckeyes finished the game with four double-digit scorers, including Bates-Diop who scored 18 points and also gathered 11 rebounds.
This is the Buckeyes best win of the season and proved they are capable of beating an elite team away from home. A lot played into this victory, however, I consider Ohio State’s resilience and never give up mindset the reason why they came out on top tonight.
2) No reason to worry, Purdue
Losing isn’t fun and it’s especially not fun when you haven’t experienced defeat in over two months. However, there’s no need to truly worry Purdue fans because your Boilermakers are still very, very good.
Purdue led for basically the entire game on Wednesday night, which is pretty incredible when you look at how the Boilermakers only got true production from three guys. Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas combined for 57 of the Boilermakers’ 63 points. Those three generally lead the team in scoring but they also normally get more out of other pieces — for instance the bench didn’t score a single point. So it’s fair to say this wasn’t Purdue’s greatest performance yet they nearly beat a good Buckeyes team.
The loss hurts Purdue when it comes to earning the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament — Ohio State now controls their own destiny for that. However, in the grand scheme of things this isn’t the end of the world for Purdue. The Boilermakers are still extremely talented and still look like a National Championship contender.
3) Ohio State controls destiny in Big Ten title race
At the beginning of the season no one could have predicted we’d be saying Ohio State is in the driver’s seat for a Big Ten title with only five games to go. No one predicted it, but that’s what has happened.
With the win at Purdue, the Buckeyes can win out and earn their first Big Ten regular season title since 2012. If they win out, they’d also clinch the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, holding the tiebreaker over the Boilermakers.
The Buckeyes will finish up the regular season with home games against Iowa and Rutgers, and road trips to No. 20 Michigan, Penn State and Indiana. That’s actually a pretty tough slate, but Ohio State couldn’t be in a better position then where they are right now. Especially when no one — including myself — figured they’d be here.
There was plenty of excitement going into tonight’s battle between these two great teams, and the game certainly lived up to the hype. It almost wasn’t fair one of these teams had to lose this game because it was that great of a game.
Ohio State proved they can knock off a truly elite team away from home. With the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, this should make Buckeye fans feel really good about a deep postseason run in March. It might be time to start looking into booking a hotel room in San Antonio, Ohio State fans.
For Purdue, this was a heartbreaker. It looked like they were going to run away with this one in the second half but they simply couldn’t put the final nail in the Buckeyes’ coffin. This one stings right now, but it can also serve as a learning tool for Purdue. We’ll see how the Boilermakers respond in a very tough road matchup against No. 4 Michigan State on Saturday.