#1 Ohio State and #12 Purdue locked horns in Columbus this evening for early control of the Big Ten conference. After Purdue neglected to take the floor, the Buckeyes cruised to a lopsided 87-64 win. Purdue simply had no answer for the Buckeyes on either side of the court, with only Johnson and Moore finding any sort of scoring success against the tough Buckeye defense. Six Buckeyes broke double figures, including William Buford’s team leading 19. With the win, the Buckeyes advance to 21-0, which is one shy of tying* their second best start in program history, sharing with the 1960-’61 National Runner-up team.
I would like to take a moment to yell at ESPN. We know full well that you’re the new name of SEC sports, and you have vested interest when the Florida/Georgia game goes into double overtime. However, the Big Ten market doesn’t particularly care about your mid-level SEC basketball game, especially once Florida secures a 12 point lead with not enough time left on the clock for a UGA comeback. I almost wish this game had been on the Big Ten Network.
Buford came out of the gate with the hot hand, sinking two quick three pointers to open the game for the Bucks. Purdue’s strategy, to double team Sully by sloughing a defender off Buford, gave Will the wide open looks he needed to rain in the big opening shots. While the strategy seemed to take Sullinger out of the game, it was the same “pick your poison” option as the OSU shooters took advantage of it.
Purdue had absolutely no answer for the Buckeyes in the early going. On both ends of the court, Ohio State had their number on the way to an early 26-9 lead that left the Boiler’s completely stunned. It seemed as if whatever Purdue wanted to do, OSU had the immediate answer. Worse yet, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore had combined for 2-7 shooting for a total of 5 points 10 minutes into the game. Exactly what Purdue didn’t want to happen to start the game.
One great advantage of the quick lead was that Deshaun Thomas and Jordan Sibert got lots of play time in the first half against a good team. That kind of experience is massively helpful to the development of young players and will only see dividends later in the year. Even more impressive was seeing Jordan Sibert defend E’Twaun Moore while he was on the court. As for Thomas, he scored 7 points in the first half to help the team maintain their big early lead.
Purdue began to finally find some success towards the end of the first half. JaJuan Johnson finally managed to find his shooting stroke managing to get into double digits and hit 4-4 of his shots, including most of those from long range. Unfortunately for poor Johnson, the rest of the Boilermakers were a combined 5-17 on the game, giving him no help on the offensive side of the court.
As a team, the Boilermakers had shot 38.5% (10-26) for the half and only 20% (1-5) from three. While that shooting was ok, it was no-where near god enough to keep up with Ohio State’s 17-30 (56.7%) and 6-9 (66.7%) on the way to the 46-26 halftime lead. Even worse for Purdue was the rebounding advantage for the Bucks as they secured a 19-10 difference. The Buckeye of the half had to be Aaron Craft’s 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, and incredible first stanza for the young freshman.
Coming out of the half, JaJuan Johnson continued his hot shooting from the end of the first half. He was able to start to close the gap, especially as the Buckeyes came out a little cold. Johnson’s 5 quick points got the lead down below 20.
Then Sullinger hit his three pointer.
The huge shot suddenly drove the Buckeyes to even greater heights. Buford quickly sank two additional three pointers, including one off a Craft steal and assist, that put Purdue down 26 with 15 minutes remaining. The sudden surge of momentum took the wind out of Purdue’s sails and almost certainly put the game away for all intents and purposes.
It was also revealed during the game that Sullinger has stated his intention to want to stick around for at least one more year in the Scarlet and Gray. While it’s early yet and things can certainly change, the statement was a great one to hear. It was even better to hear that the coaching staff is excited about the prospect, and believe that it’s possible.
One of the biggest differences in this game was Ohio State’s three point shooting. While the Buckeyes are normally pretty solid from beyond the arc, the 64.3% shooting (by the middle of the 2nd half) was way beyond any normal shooting percentage. The Buckeyes simply could not miss from long range leaving Purdue with no answer at all.
Ohio State had six players score in double digits including William Buford (19), Jared Sullinger (17), Diebler and Thomas (13), Aaron Craft (11), and David Lighty (10). Purdue only managed two players with the same feat: JaJuan Johnson’s game leading 24 and E’Twaun Moore’s 16. For the game, the Buckeyes shot 55.2% (32-58) from the floor and 57.9% (11-19) from three, compared to Purdue’s 38.1% (24-63) and 37.5% (6-16) respectively. The Bucks also outrebounded the Boilermakers to the tune of 39-26.
The Buckeyes will next face Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday**, January 29th at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. You’ll be able to see that game on ESPN2.
* Corrected to not double count Purdue (or accidentally count Walsh – your choice).
** Corrected on account of a “current day of the week” fail.