I am not sure if traditionalists will consider Purdue the Ohio State men’s basketball team’s primary rival, but for me, there is no other team that gets me as anxious when the Buckeyes take to the floor against them, and no other team that I am more excited when the Buckeyes beat them than the Boilermakers.
On Sunday afternoon at the Covelli Center on the Ohio State campus, teams comprised primarily of alumni of the two Big Ten schools faced off in the second round of 2021’s The Basketball Tournament. Carmen’s Crew’s quest for a second TBT title in three years continues after the home team knocked off their Purdue counterparts 80-69.
As one would expect, these two teams were battling down low and beating each other up in the paint throughout the contest. As the game began, neither team was shooting all that well. Five minutes into the action, the teams were combining for an ugly 5-for-27 (18.5%) from the floor, as the Buckeye alums had a 7-5 advantage.
Despite Purdue being known for their monsters in the middle, Carmen’s Crew grew their first quarter lead thanks to an advantage in terms of points in the paint. After the first nine minutes, CC held a 10-4 advantage with Evan Ravenel, Kosta Koufos, and Jeff Gibbs flexing their muscles down low.
Heading into the second period, the Ohio State alums led 13-9 and started the quarter with possession. Unfortunately, Carmen’s Crew turned it over on their first trip, but on the other side of the floor, Aaron Craft, Keyshawn Woods, and a bevy of other former Buckeyes found themselves on the fighting for a loose ball, reminding us all why we love the feistiest of former Buckeyes.
Continuing the trend of Carmen’s Crew taking control underneath, Julian Mavunga — the brother of former OSU women’s team great Stephanie Mavunga — was fouled in the act underneath and with one hand converted on the circus shot. He wasn’t able to complete the three-point play, but his bucket opened up a 10-point lead in terms of paint points in the game.
Midway through the quarter, the Men of Mackey missed seven-straight attempts from the floor over the course of a 5:23 period. Unfortunately, the former Buckeyes weren’t able to capitalize on it, because they were themselves on a 0-for-7 streak of their own. William Buford broke the drought after hitting a corner-three off of a great David Lighty assist to put CC up 22-18. Lighty then ran the floor and picked up an offensive foul on Frank Gaines.
As time ticked away on the first half of action, Otterbein and Carmen’s Crew legend “6-foot-2” Jeff Gibbs got a bucket in the lane surrounded by a bunch of black jerseys standing six to 10 inches taller than he was and then on the next offensive possession, the Great and powerful Gibbs hit a pull-up, transition three-pointer as time expired to take Carmen’s Crew into the locker room up 29-21.
Neither team was shooting all that well from distance, in the first half, Carmen’s Crew was 3-of-14 (21%) from distance and the Men of Mackey were just 1-for-7 (14%), but the former Buckeyes maintained their advantage down low outscoring the former Boilermakers 20-6 in the first half of the contest. The Men of Mackey were staying in the game because they were outshooting Carmen’s Crew from the stripe. The former Boilers were 6-of-7 (87%) from the free throw line while the home team was 0-for-2 (that’s 0%, in case you weren’t sure).
Gibbs led all scorers with 9 first half points, with Buford behind him with 5, and Mavunga and Ravenel with 4. On the other side, former TBT color commentator Robbie Hummel led the Purdue team with 5 points, while Isaac Haas and Frank Gaines had 4 apiece.
Unlike the first half, both teams came out shooting well in the opening minutes of the third quarter. In the first 1:20 of the half, Carmen’s Crew saw Gibbs hit a pair of free throws, Buford connect from downtown, and Lighty complete an old-fashioned three-point play to put the good guys up 37-24.
However, the MoM were not going to go away without a fight. On the shoulders of Haas and Hummel, the Purdue alums cut the lead to 37-30 before Buford hit another triple to get the lead back to double-digits. But, as is to be expected from the Purdue alums, they continued to fight and claw. With just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Ra’Shad James converted on a fastbreak layup to cut the lead to 46-41. However, Men of Mackey getting the lead to just two possessions seemed to ignite Carmen’s Crew as on back-to-back trips, Jon Deibler connected on a corner-three and Woods converted a jumper in the lane to push the lead back to 10 with 2:07 left in the quarter.
After that three-pointer, Three-bler started heating up hitting twice from beyond the arc in the final 43 seconds of the third quarter. The old school Diebler action opened up Carmen’s Crew’s lead to 60-46 heading into the fourth.
Despite the deficit, the third quarter was very good for Hummel who put up 10 points in the period, but all of those points came in the first 2:49 of the period. From there, Kelsey Barlow led the way for MoM, scoring nine of the team’s 13 points in the last 5:31.
The Carmen’s Crew offense turned to Ravenel in the early minutes of the fourth quarter. It started with him connecting on a straight-away three-pointer... yes, you read that correctly, Evan Ravenel made a three-point basket. Then he also hit a more traditional Ravenel big man bucket in the paint to score the home team’s first five points of the period.
This was an absolute DIME from Craft to Koufos pic.twitter.com/zx4v0PixzR— TBT (@thetournament) July 25, 2021
With Carmen’s Crew leading 72-59 at the 3:42 mark CC head coach Jared Sullinger called time out activating the Elam Ending. The game’s target score was set at 80, meaning that the good guys only had to score 8 to win, while Men of Mackey would need 21.
From there, the home team was virtually untested as Buford hit a triple, Shannon Scott got a free throw and then a triple, and Mavunga got a game-winning free throw to win the game.
Buford led all scorers on the game with 19 points and 7 rebounds (a team high). He was followed in double figures by teammates Gibbs (11), and Ravenel (10). Diebler and Mavunda each had 9. For Men of Mackey were led by Barlow with 18, followed by Hummel with 17, and Haas with 14.
When all was said and done, the home team held a 38-26 point advantage in the paint and outshot the Purdue alums 48% (30-63) to 36% (24-67). Carmen’s Crew’s depth was also a huge factor as the OSU bench outscored their Boilermaker counterparts 34-9.
Carmen’s Crew will next play on Tuesday, July 27 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN against the winner of No. 5 The money Team and No. 4 Team Hines. The winner of that contest will advance to the quarterfinals in Dayton beginning on Saturday, July 31.