After weathering an ugly, sloppy start, Ohio State fought back from a double digit deficit in the second half to chase a lead that'd been elusive since the early goings of their rematch against Purdue.
Though both teams eventually recovered from a nearly unwatchable start that saw both teams shooting at or around 20% from the field, the Boilermakers' ability to do so more expeditiously helped them be in control of the contest for much of the middle portions of the contest.
But behind yet another ambitious showing from possible national freshman of the year D'Angelo Russell and some strong grit and effort from the team's role players, OSU was able to make this one a contest. Russell really caught fire with around 7 minutes to play and his play down the stretch ultimately was enough to help Ohio State earn a win over another NCAA tournament type team.
3 things we learned:
1. Result aside, we still have no clue what this team is truly capable outside of Columbus. Aside from a second half showing against Louisville, the Bucks have been nothing if not consistently inconsistent while on the road. And the home showing hasn't always been much better.
Though there's been moments in just about all of their games where it looked like OSU were capable of playing to their potential, they often played their best basketball at home in the comfortable confines of Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Though this outcome adds to the rich tapestry that is OSU's 2014-2015 season, we'll know a lot more about this team in two weeks, and for better or worse, the week after that, than we think we know now.
2. D'Angelo Russell is Ohio State basketball at its absolute best. Whether you're a fair-weather OSU hoops fan or a devotee who makes it a point to take in every Walsh exhibition in person each fall, the full potential of Ohio State basketball is apparent in the unexpected greatness of OSU's wunderfrosh.
Though the greediest amongst us would kill for another player of his caliber or two, while it's certainly nothing new, as particularly the end of the game showed, as Russell goes, so still do the Buckeyes.
OSU's best stretches come when the explosive freshman is at the peak of his powers. And when Russell is out of the mix or suffering a cold spell, well...
3. A motivated Amir is somehow still a thing that exists. Far too many, in Twittersphere and even media alike, have made crapping on a 22-year old student athlete into almost a sport.
Is it unfortunate he doesn't always love playing basketball as much as you do watching it? Absolutely. But he's still a young person, and one whose combination of natural ability and high school on-the-court showing had him a McDonald's All-American -- and coveted by a number of blue bloods who were miffed they lost out on the big man to the Buckeyes.
The really frustrating aspect for those amongst us who don't particularly care for making light of even sometimes poor effort in any real mean spirited sense is that Amir was, contrary to conventional wisdom, a viable defensive big who did in fact get better (if nothing but incrementally) every season until this one. For Amir to have almost made the often unfair criticisms of his worst moments a more constant reality this year has been a bummer for everyone, and this year's basketball season is worse for it.
And while we all wish he was the best of him that we saw in portions of this Purdue game more often than he is, flashes like those still show what could be as OSU's plays out the final 5-10 games of their season. Now we just have to hope we get the pissed off/motivation iteration far more than the lethargic, defeatist incarnation -- or whatever we saw on that final end of game travel, certainly.