COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kyle Young scored a career-high 16 points and added seven rebounds and Ohio State sent Purdue to a second straight loss, 68-52 today at Value City Arena. Evan Boudreaux had 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting to lead the Boilermakers before fouling out late in the second half.
Purdue's gameplan worked: Purdue wanted to get the ball out of Kaleb Wesson's hands, that much was obvious. The Buckeyes' big man is a load to deal with one-on-one in the post and Purdue did everything it could to deny him shot opportunities, including sagging back to make entry passes difficult and sending a second defender (not a full double team but having someone else in the area) when Wesson got the ball. As a result, the junior power forward took only one shot in the first half and eight in the game. After months of struggling to find defensive energy on the road, the Boilermakers have brought it two games in a row and it made life difficult for the Buckeyes and Wesson especially this afternoon.
The shots just didn't fall: The main difference between the teams for most of the afternoon was that Ohio State hit outside shots and Purdue did not hit many shots of any kind. The Buckeyes finished at 49% from the field and 9 for 20 from beyond the 3-point line (OSU came in 17th in the country in 3-point shooting at 38%), while Purdue was 4 of 20 from 3-point range and hit 35% overall. The Boilermakers got plenty of good looks, as well, they simply didn't fall for most of the game. Purdue missed seven straight 3-pointers during one particularly rough stretch and then after Evan Boudreaux broke the spell with a big 3 early in the second half, Sasha Stefanovic missed two wide open looks from directly at the top of the key. Those are shots that Purdue needs its best shooters, like Stefanovic to make, especially against a defense as good as Ohio State. By contrast, when Purdue was able to string together a few baskets and cut the Buckeye lead to 45-36 in the second half, Ohio State responded with back-to-back 3s on its next two possessions to extend the lead again. Timely shooting was the difference in the game.
Purdue is in trouble: The Boilermakers sit at 14-12 and 7-8 in the Big Ten after this loss. They were already on NCAA Tournament bubble before today and this loss will make their position even more precarious. Now, they have another tough road game against Wisconsin to look forward to before returning home for tough games against Michigan and rival Indiana. There isn't a gimme victory for the Boilers left on the schedule and they will probably need to get to at least 10-10 in conference play to make the tournament. Even then, it would be a nervous Selection Sunday, especially if they don't make a run in the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers are running out of opportunities to show why they belong in the field and today was another wasted chance.
Player of the Game: Kaleb Wesson
Despite Purdue's mostly-successful efforts to get the ball out of his hands, Wesson was still the most important player on the floor for the Buckeyes. He affected every aspect of the game, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. He is much more complete player this season than he was as a freshman and sophomore and the Ohio State offense runs through him.
Facts and Figures
Ohio State is the only team in the Big Ten with a winning against the Boilermakers. Including today's game, the all-time record between the teams is 91-88 OSU. The Boilermakers are 3-14 all-time at Value City Arena. ... Purdue is 4-9 away from Mackey Arena this season. ... Jahaad Proctor had 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting for Purdue, adding three rebounds and two steals. It is his fourth double-digit performance in the last six games after he had none in the previous nine games. ... Ohio State guard C.J. Walker originally committed to Purdue before de-committing and originally going to Florida State instead. Walker had nine points on 3-for-6 shooting in his first game against the Boilers. ... Ohio State was without third-leading scorer D.J. Carton, a freshman guard who has been out since Jan. 30 as he tries to improve his mental health.
Purdue is back in action Tuesday, when it travels to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers (14-10, 7-6 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN. Wisconsin has been up and down in Big Ten play, but is coming off a 70-57 win over Ohio State at home on Sunday. They take on Nebraska later this afternoon. Purdue won the first matchup between these teams 70-51 at Mackey Arena on Jan. 24. Evan Boudreaux had 10 points and 13 rebounds in the game.