Ohio State is still searching for their first win in 2019. The Buckeyes will have to be at the top of their game tonight if they want to snap their four-game losing streak, as they’ll be welcoming a Purdue team to Columbus who is riding a three-game winning streak.
Ohio State’s woes continued on Friday night when they fell to Maryland 75-61 at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes hung with the Terrapins for a while, trailing by just a point with 18 minutes left in the second half, but Maryland answered with a 14-2 run to erase any doubt in the result. The loss by the Buckeyes was their fourth setback in a row, and things won’t get any easier tonight when the Purdue Boilermakers come to town.
After coming off the bench against Iowa, C.J. Jackson returned to the starting lineup on Friday night against Maryland. Jackson responded by scoring a team-high 15 points in the loss to the Terrapins. The senior guard has now scored double figures in 11 of the last 12 games. Jackson also had four steals against Maryland, marking the third time recording four steals in a game during his Ohio State career.
Kaleb Wesson is leading Ohio State with 15.9 points per game this year, but he has struggled mightily over the past two games. Not only has Wesson struggled with foul trouble lately, but he hasn’t been able to make much of an impact on the score sheet over the past two games. In the Ohio State’s most recent losses to Iowa and Maryland, Wesson has scored a combined 13 points.
The Buckeyes are now especially going to need Wesson to be more careful to try and stay out of foul trouble after it was announced yesterday that sophomore forward Kyle Young would miss some time due to a stress fracture in his leg. Young gave Ohio State a spark off the bench on the glass, with the 4.8 rebounds per game he averaged ranking second on the squad behind Kaleb Wesson. Underclassmen Jaedon LeDee, Musa Jallow, and Justin Ahrens figure to see an increase in their playing time off the bench with Young on the shelf.
Another player who has given Ohio State a spark off the bench at times this season, and will be healthy for tonight’s game against Purdue, is Duane Washington Jr. The freshman scored 14 points in the loss to Maryland, and also pulled down a career-high six rebounds. If Washington Jr. can get his shot going from behind the arc, it could clear some room out in the paint for Kaleb Wesson and some of the other Buckeyes to work. The guard is shooting 35.6% from three-point range this year, but has drained at least two three-pointers in seven games this year.
Ohio State now will turn their attention to the Purdue Boilermakers. The Buckeyes have enjoyed plenty of success against the Boilermakers lately, winning eight of the last 11 meetings against Matt Painter’s team. Purdue has struggled mightily in Columbus, winning just twice in 15 trips to Value City Arena.
The last time these two teams met, Ohio State snapped Purdue’s 19-game winning streak with a 64-63 win in West Lafayette. The Buckeyes trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, but rallied back and scored the upset with a putback by Keita Bates-Diop with 2.8 seconds left in the game. Bates-Diop finished with a team-high 18 points, while Andre Wesson added 13 points, and Musa Jallow scored 10 points off the bench.
Purdue enters tonight’s game riding a three-game winning streak, which started with an 84-80 overtime win over Wisconsin in Madison. With a win over the Buckeyes tonight, the Boilermakers will have secured road wins over both Wisconsin and Ohio State in the same season for the first time since 1996.
The Boilermakers have been nearly unbeatable in January over the last two seasons, posting a 13-1 record during the first month of the year. The latest of those wins came on Saturday when Purdue took down in-state rival Indiana 70-55 in West Lafayette. Carsen Edwards led the way for Purdue, scoring a team-high 20 points. Sophomore guard Nojel Eastern recorded his first career double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Matt Haarms added 12 points off the bench for Purdue in the easy victory.
Ohio State will have their hands full in trying to slow down Carsen Edwards, who is currently averaging 24.6 points per game this season, which is fourth-best nationally. Since the 1992-93 season, the only Big Ten players to average at least 24 points per game in a season were Purdue’s Glenn Robinson and Michigan State’s Shawn Respert.
Edwards enters tonight’s game 11 points shy of 1,500 career points, and eight rebounds shy of 300 career rebounds. When Edwards reaches those milestones he’ll be the sixth Purdue player to score 1,500 points, grab 300 rebounds, dish out 200 assists, and record 100 steals. It shouldn’t take Edwards too long to get the 11 points needed to reach the 1,500 point mark, as he has scored at least 11 points in every game this season.
Partnering with Edwards to give opponents fits from behind the arc is Ryan Cline. Edwards has splashed 69 three-pointers this year, while Cline has hit 56 triples. The 125 combined three-pointers is the third-highest total by a duo in the country this season. The pair is the eighth duo in school history to each hit at least 55 three-pointers in a season.
After dealing with Isaac Haas at times during the last four seasons, Ohio State has another big center from Purdue they’ll have to keep tabs on. Sophomore Matt Haarms measures in at 7-foot-3 inches tall. The center from Amsterdam put together one of his better performances of the season on Saturday, scoring 12 points, grabbing four rebounds, handing out four assists, and blocking a couple shots. Haarms is averaging 1.6 blocks per game this season.
One Purdue player who has been seeing a lot more playing time lately is Trevion Williams. Prior to Purdue squaring off with Michigan State earlier this month, Williams saw more than 10 minutes of playing time just once. Against the Spartans, Williams played 21 minutes, and has played at least 13 minutes in each of the last three games. Over the past four games, Williams is averaging 11.5 points per game and 10 rebounds per contest.
ESPN BPI: Purdue 51.0%
Right now this is a game of teams heading in opposite directions. Purdue struggled with a tough early season schedule, but have been able to put things together lately. On the other side, Ohio State didn’t face quite as much of a challenge in the non-conference portion of their schedule, and now look to be falling apart against some of the tougher teams in the Big Ten.
As if Ohio State didn’t already have their backs against the wall, they’ll be without Kyle Young for an undetermined amount of time. Young was a tremendous energy guy off the bench for the Buckeyes. The loss of Young will force the Buckeyes to look for answers on a bench that wasn’t very deep prior to Young’s injury. The Ohio State bigs will need to work even harder to stay out of foul trouble, as there isn’t much help coming off the bench now that Young is injured.
This feels like one of those games where Chris Holtmann can rally his team and get them to believe that they have what it takes to win this game. With Ohio State’s recent losing streak, along with games against Nebraska and Michigan up next, the Buckeyes desperately need a win here to stay within shouting distance of the top half of the Big Ten.
Even though it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see a gritty effort from Ohio State to slow down Carsen Edwards and the Boilermakers, it just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards right now. Purdue is putting things together at the right time, while things are spiraling out of control for the Buckeyes. Ohio State gives it their best effort tonight at home, but they fall short in their attempt to snap their losing streak.