Preview: #12 Purdue at #1 Ohio State

By Chris Lauderback on January 25, 2011 at 1:00p
JaJuan: 25 ppg, 54% shooting in last 4 games
Ohio State Buckeyes #1 Ohio State 20-0, 7-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 9:00 PM ET - ESPN —— The Schott Columbus, OH Purdue Boilermakers #12 Purdue 17-3, 6-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Fresh off a sterling 73-68 comeback victory in Champaign against an imposing Illinois squad, Thad Matta's Buckeyes again put their #1 national ranking and sole possession of 1st place in the B1G on the line tonight against Matt Painter's 12th ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Recent history has not been kind to OSU in this matchup as the Boilers have won three of the last four, including the lone blemish on OSU's home record a season ago, a 60-57 loss in which the Buckeyes came out flat and JaJuan Johnson lit up Dallas Lauderdale and company with 24 and 15 while E'Twaun Moore added 15 points, six boards and five dimes. John Diebler missed a decent look at a three as time expired.

Tonight figures to be another classic between two well coached teams with the outcome likely not decided until the final minute. Looking at the numbers in conference play, it's almost scary just how similar these teams have been to this point. How similar you ask? Here's a taste:

  • Scoring Offense: Purdue ranks 1st (76.6), Ohio State ranks 2nd (72.1)
  • Scoring Defense: Ohio State ranks 2nd (63.6), Purdue ranks 3rd (64.9)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Ohio State ranks 2nd (48.4%), Purdue ranks 3rd (47.3%)
  • 3PT Field Goal Percentage: Ohio State ranks 2nd (44.6%), Purdue ranks 3rd (42.1%)
  • Field Goal Percentage Defense: Purdue ranks 5th (44.2%), Ohio State ranks 6th (46.0%)
  • Turnover Margin: Both teams tied for 2nd with a +2.86 per game

What isn't so similar is that Purdue leans heavily on Johnson and Moore for scoring punch every night whereas OSU clearly leans on Sullinger but offers a much more balanced supporting cast thereafter. Purdue is also stronger on the boards producing a +5.7 Rebounding Margin in conference play with the Buckeyes checking in at a slipping -0.3 margin. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes defend the three point line better holding conference foes to 32% while Purdue surrenders a potentially troublesome 40% long distance clip.

44 William Buford 13.4 4.1 3.4 G 23 Lewis Jackson 6.9 3.2 3.9
33 Jon Diebler 11.7 1.9 2.5 G 24 Ryne Smith 6.6 1.9 1.8
23 David Lighty 12.8 4.0 3.7 G 33 E'Twaun Moore 18.1 5.8 3.5
0 Jared Sullinger 17.9 10.2 1.4 F 50 Travis Carroll 1.5 2.2 0.3
52 Dallas Lauderdale 4.6 4.2 0.2 C 25 JaJuan Johnson 20.5 7.9 1.1


Purdue is riding a modest two game winning streak on the heels of losing two straight roadies to Minnesota and West Virginia. Perimeter defense and an off night from Moore (2/14 FG) hurt the Boilers in the loss to the Gophers as Blake Hoffarber went off for 25 and Minny shot 43% from distance. West Virginia edged the Boilers 68-64 in Morgantown three days later in a physical affair that saw the Mountaineers win the glass 37-29 and hold Purdue to six points during a crucial seven and a half minute stretch. Johnson was a freak of nature in both games averaging 27.5 points and nine boards against some rough and tumble front lines though WVU wasn't quite as long on the baseline as Minnesota.

Looking to get back to their winning ways, Purdue welcomed what we know as a pesky Penn State team to West Lafayette and needed all 40 minutes with Johnson hitting an 18 foot jumper with three seconds left to pull out a 63-62 victory. The bucket gave Johnson 25 points on the night and Moore chipped in with 16. As I alluded to earlier, Purdue got little help elsewhere - no other Boiler recorded more than six points or three rebounds. Amazingly, the stat sheet says Purdue turned it over just three times on the night.

Painter's crew followed up the PSU win with a 10 point home victory over Sparty buoyed by 26 points from Moore, 20 out of Johnson and an electrifying career high 19 point effort from 5'9" junior point guard Lewis Jackson. The diminutive sparkplug blew by Kalin Lucas at will at the offensive end and held Lucas to 3/16 at the other in support of the two big guns. Jackson's effectiveness offensively is a huge key to watch tonight. If Craft can stay in front of him, Moore and Johnson will have to work harder for open looks.

Ryne Smith, a 6'3" junior guard has been quiet in his last four conference outings (3.5 ppg, 1.7 apg) after opening the B1G campaign with a totally out of character 17.0 ppg including 20 on the road in State College. Primarily a three point shooting threat, Smith is 2nd on the team with 36 three pointers made on the strength of an impressive 49.3% mark from distance.

The final starter spot is has been somewhat of a turnstile with 6'9" Travis Carroll getting the call against Sparty. He logged just eight minutes with no points and one board after averaging nearly 15 minutes in the previous five contests. A pair of 6'5" wings, D.J. Byrd (4.9 ppg) and Kelsey Barlow (5.8 ppg) will also see rotational minutes tonight with some other guys like 6'2" Terone Johnson and maybe 6'2" John Hart tossed into the back end of Painter's 8-9 man rotation.

Buckeye Breakdown

The real question at hand in this one is how Thad Matta will scheme to defend Johnson and Moore. In the road win over Purdue last year, Matta chose to front Johnson with a wing as Dallas played behind limiting Johnson to just five shots (2/5, 4 pts) but that freed up Hummel and Moore to the tune of 54 points on 36 shots. Obviously, the Boilers don't have Hummel this time around plus the Buckeyes have a kid named Sullinger on the roster. Still, it begs the question of whether Matta will elect to have Sully guard Johnson straight up (when Dallas is on the pine for his usual 25-30 min) or have a wing front Johnson in the post from time to time.

The other key, slowing Moore, could fall on a few different defenders though I think Lighty is best suited for the task especially considering Purdue simply isn't that big. Carroll, at 6'9" would have to be defended by Lighty if Dallas wasn't out there with Sullinger but he doesn't typically play many minutes meaning Lighty should be on Moore when Purdue goes with their predominantly smaller lineup. I've read elsewhere that Craft should draw the Moore assignment but I don't see it. Craft's job in this one should be to disrupt Jackson's point guard responsibilities and keep him out of the paint so he cannot drive and dish to Johnson and Moore for easy points.

Offensively, Buford has faired well against the Boilers over his career averaging 14.6 ppg on 55% from the floor. Said to be fully healed from a ankle twist at Illinois, I see no reason not to expect the same output tonight. He averaged 15.7 in the three contests prior shooting 7/12 from distance. Given the fact Purdue has allowed teams to shoot 40% from three point land, you'd think Diebler might have a chance to go off though he scored just 6 and 10 points respectively in last year's matchups. Like Diebler, Lighty also contributed very little in two matchups against Purdue last year with a combined nine points on 3/15 shooting.

With no Evan Turner for everyone to stand and watch, I understand that these numbers may not be overly significant but might that mean my man Deshaun Thomas could have another impact performance? The kid was instrumental in the Illinois win and against a smallish Purdue front line, he might be able to do the same if given the opportunity.

Finally, let's see what Sullinger can do against Johnson on the low block. With Johnson's length and agility, I don't see Sully taking him out to 15 feet and facing him up. Sullinger's best bet is to rely on his usual relentless effort establishing position and going right at Johnson in an effort to pick up some fouls and points from the stripe. Johnson will block some shots and Painter will likely double Sully early and gamble on some perimeter misses so he must continue his growth passing out of double teams, specifically turning and swinging the ball to the other side of the court creating either driving lanes or open jumpers. If the Buckeyes are hitting a decent percentage of their jumpers, they move to 21-0.


  • Ohio State is 21-4 against Purdue when entering the game ranked in the Top 25.
  • When ranked #1, Ohio State is 3-0 against the Boilers.
  • Ohio State has won 5 of 7 games when both teams entered the contest ranked in the Top 25.
View 177 Comments