Following an up-and-down week for the Ohio State men’s basketball team that featured a 20-point win over No. 22 Iowa — highlighted by a 29-point outburst from freshman Justin Ahrens — and the announcement that the team’s leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson would be suspended for violating athletic department policy, the Ohio State Buckeyes (18-11, 8-10) fell to the No. 14 Purdue Boilermakers (22-7, 15-3) 86-51 The lop-sided home win kept the Boilers undefeated at Mackey Arena this season.
Thanks to Indiana’s second upset of No. 6 Michigan State this season — the Hoosiers beat Sparty 63-62 on Saturday — if Purdue wins out on the season, they will secure the Big Ten regular season crown.
With Kaleb Wesson unavailable, head coach Chris Holtmann ran out a starting five that featured a senior (C.J. Jackson), a junior (Andre Wesson), and three freshmen (Ahrens, Jaedon LeDee, and Luther Muhammad).
The absence of the younger Wesson brother was obviously a factor in the game, as Purdue dominated on the boards, and were able to clamp down on OSU’s guards and wings. Then again, when your opponents don’t miss a shot, it really doesn’t matter much if your big man is in the game or not.
The Boilermakers opened the game with a barrage of three-pointers, hitting four of their first six in the first 6:30 to put them up 16-8. The Bucks attempted to keep pace though with a pair of triples from Wesson and Keyshawn Woods, but it just wasn’t enough to put a dent into Purdue’s lights-out scoring-machine.
Despite the valiant OSU effort, Purdue just couldn’t miss in the early going. At the under-12 media timeout, the Boilers were hitting 71.4 percent (5-7) of their shots from behind the arc, while the Buckeyes were shooting a normally respectable 40 percent (4-10) from the floor in general.
From there — believe it or not — it got worse for OSU. The Buckeyes went over six minutes without a field goal before Woods hit a jumper to break a Purdue 11-0 run. However, by that point, the Boilers were shooting 70 percent (7-10) from downtown, making every Buckeye basket little more than a temporary band-aid.
With just under five minutes remaining in the half, Ohio State had 17 points, while junior guard Carsen Edwards had 17 of the Boilermakers’ 42. When the Buckeyes got to the much-needed halftime break, they trailed Purdue 48-20.
In addition to the eye-popping shooting disparity, the Boilers also held a commanding 21-11 rebounding advantage to go along with a 14-6 points-in-the-paint lead. The impact of Kaleb Wesson being sidelined was evident in the first half as the the Purdue guards were able to focus on OSU’s outside players, with no legitimate scoring threat inside.
The Buckeyes ended the first 20 minutes shooting 6-for-22 (27.3%) from the field, including 2-of-13 (15.4%) from three-point land. Fortunately, OSU was 6-of-8 (75%) from the free throw line.
In the second half, things didn’t get any better, as the home team continued to dominate. However, while Purdue played well after the intermission, they weren’t as unconscious as they were before it. But, the Buckeyes just couldn’t pick up any traction as the Boilermakers’ lead ballooned to 64-32 with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
The question coming out of this game has to be whether or not this embarrassing defeat erases the good vibes that the Buckeyes picked up following their 90-70 win over Iowa. With just two regular season games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes will wrap the conference slate against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
While obviously anything can happen in the B1G Tourney to impact a potential NCAA Tournament berth, if OSU wants to secure a spot on their regular season résumé alone, the game against the Wildcats has become incredibly important. And, as the Buckeyes celebrate Senior Day, it would be advantageous to pull the season-ending upset over the Badgers as well.
While Ahrens wasn’t able to recapture the magic he had earlier in the week, as he was held scoreless, two other freshmen provided most of the production for the Buckeyes. Both LeDee and Duane Washington Jr. LeDee led all Buckeye scorers with 16, and was provided the most consistent effort for the Scarlet and Gray on both sides of the ball.
Perhaps the only other bright spot in the game for the Buckeyes was the fact that Joey Lane got a career-high in terms of minutes played in a Big Ten game, with four. Unfortunately, other than a personal foul, he did not contribute to the stat sheet.
On the afternoon, the Buckeyes shot 33 percent (16-48) from the floor and 10.5 percent (2-19) from behind the arc, including going 0-6 after halftime. Conversely, Purdue ended the game shooting 55.9 percent on 33-59 shooting, and after their blistering first half “cooled down” to shoot just 11-21 from downtown.
Without Kaleb Wesson in the game, Purdue out-rebounded OSU 39-27.
The Buckeyes will begin the final week of the regular season on Wednesday, March 6 at 9 p.m. ET in Evanston, Ill., against the Northwestern Wildcats.