Preview: #3 Ohio State at #11 Purdue

By Joe Beale on February 20, 2011 at 6:00a
Could somebody else please provide some scoring?
Johnson scored at will in the first meeting.
Ohio State Buckeyes #3 Ohio State 25-1, 12-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 1:00 PM ET - CBS —— Mackey Arena West Lafayette, IN Purdue Boilermakers #11 Purdue 21-5, 10-3 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

With 5 games remaining in the Big Ten schedule, Ohio State comes into West Lafayette looking to strike a major blow in their quest for the regular season conference title.  With a win over the Boilermakers, OSU will be up by 3 games in the standings with 4 to play. Not only that, but a win would also likely propel the Buckeyes back into the #1 national ranking after Texas and Pitt lost to unranked teams today.

For Purdue, sitting in 2nd place in the B10 standings, this game brings an opportunity to pull within one game of the Buckeyes with 4 to play. It will also be an opportunity to get revenge against OSU for the hammering they took in the first meeting between the two teams. In that game, Boiler coach Matt Painter chose a strategy of doubling Jared Sullinger as a way of trying to slow down the freshman. The plan backfired, as Sully dealt the ball to his teammates and created multiple open looks from distance and OSU buried the Boilers with a 3-point avalanche. 

Purdue still leads the all-time series between the two teams by a margin of 82-76, which includes a 53-24 record at home. However, OSU is 22-4 against Purdue as a ranked team, including 8 of the last 9. In addition, OSU leads the series 6-2 when both teams are ranked. Despite the blowout earlier this season, the two teams frequently play games that become classics. Two years ago, they battled for the Big Ten Tournament championship before Purdue finally prevailed 65-61. Last season, OSU overcame 35 points from Robbie Hummell on their way to a 70-66 comeback win. The Boilers returned the favor in Columbus, winning a low-scoring defensive battle 60-57. 

44 William Buford 14.2 3.8 3.2 G 23 Lewis Jackson 7.6 3.2 3.8
33 Jon Diebler 11.1 2.3 2.4 G 24 Ryne Smith 6.3 2.0 1.8
23 David Lighty 12.3 4.0 3.3 F 33 E'Twaun Moore 17.9 5.5 3.0
0 Jared Sullinger 17.8 10.0 1.4 F 21 D.J. Byrd 4.9 2.8 1.8
52 Dallas Lauderdale 4.6 3.6 0.2 C 25 JaJuan Johnson 20.7 7.8 1.0



Purdue has recovered nicely since getting shellacked at OSU, winning 4 out of 5 with the only loss a 66-59 setback at Wisconsin. The Boilers got revenge on the Badgers this past Wednesday, winning 70-62 in West Lafayette. In that game, 5'9" point guard Lewis Jackson hit for 18 points, thus providing the third option that Purdue needs in order to take the pressure off 6'10" center JaJuan Johnson and 6'4" guard E'Twaun Moore. In fact, Jackson has played much better of late, going for double-figures in scoring for 5 of his last 7 games. However, he disappeared in the loss at Wisconsin, attempting only 1 shot and scoring only 1 point. Against OSU the first time, it was a similar story as he took only 5 shots and scored only 5 points. This cannot happen again if Purdue is to have a chance against Ohio State.

Regarding that double-team strategy from the first game, I'll let Purdue bloggers Hammer and Rails describe what needs to change this time (the typos are in the original post):

So what can we do the second time around? Well, it begins with better perimeter defense. We have to stop with the double teaming of Sullinger and trust that JaJuan Johnson and maybe even Travis Carroll can limit him defensively. I rally don't care if Sullinger scores 50 as long as we don't get beat by perimeter shooters again. We have to get out on Diebler, Buford, craft, and David Lighty. We cannot allow them to rotate the ball at will like we did the first time around.

Buckeye Breakdown:

OSU's scoring numbers have slipped somewhat in the past few weeks as teams attempt to slow down the game and limit possessions against them. However, the Buckeyes hot shooting continues as they are still shooting nearly 50% as a team from the field and over 40% as a team from 3-point range. In addition, the team is averaging only 11 turnovers per game which helps them achieve an assist/turnover ration of 1.45. One concern that the team still has is rebounding, where they rank 208th in the NCAA with just over 34 caroms per game. However, the free throw shooting has improved over the past two games (37/45) and the team is now shooting nearly 70% for the season. 

One concern that I see is that Thad Matta has now shortened his bench so much that it is basically a 6-man rotation. DeShaun Thomas saw only 3 minutes against Michigan State on Tuesday after seeing only 6 against Wisconsion. Since Big Ten play has started, Thomas and Aaron Craft have been the only consistent contributors off the bench. The net effect of this is that Craft and fellow freshman Jared Sullinger appear to be wearing down. Craft had an excellent game in the first meeting, contributing 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. However, after hitting for double-figures in 5 out of 8 games in January, he has been under 10 in all 4 games in February. During that time, he has shot only 8/20 from the field and 1/6 from beyond the arc.

On Tuesday, Michigan State chose not to double Jared Sullinger but allowed him to get the ball in the post while playing belly-up defense with one man. This would seem to favor Sully, but in fact he was held to 11 points on 3/8 shooting. He did make 5/6 free throws, and he will need to continue hitting those as he is sure to be hammered repeatedly as the games become more urgent and teams become more desperate for wins. Sullinger will need to get tougher and work to get better position in the post, or else teams will continue to push him farther and farther out, forcing him to make multiple moves after the entry pass or shoot a midrange jumper under duress. Another area where the freshman needs to improve is in hedging around ball screens. Teams have been taking advantage of Sully all season long due to this deficiency, and it was never more evident than against Wisconsin where Jordan Taylor repeatedly came open off ball screens before hitting his triples. The hedge is the best strategy for dealing with ball screens, and Sully needs to hustle more so he can be in position to hedge better when his man is the screener.


  • Jon Diebler needs only 2 3-point baskets to become the Big Ten's all-time leader in career 3-point shots made. 
  • Today's game will be broadcast on CBS, with veteran play-by-play man Verne Lundquist joined by former OSU basketball great Clark "Special K" Kellogg. 
  • Ohio State leads the nation in fewest fouls per game with 14.3 and is second nationally in scoring margin (20.0 ppg.) and turnover margin (5.7).
  • William Buford has averaged 17 points per game over his last 6 games, and he is now 2nd on the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game.

Comments Show All Comments

BucksfanXC's picture

This game doesn't scare me. A win and subsequent #1 ranking would be nice, but only that, nice. Meaningless in all reality as our seeding is mostly locked. The overall top seed would be nice, but doesn't matter much, because the field will still be tough and it will fall in any of a million different possible ways. I might actually cheer for someone like Northwestern to win the Big Ten tourney so another team from our conference gets in, especially one that's never been in before.

On a side note, I'm so glad there is an OSU game today. This site and my day yesterday was so dead. Good thing the All-Star festivities had Twitter a buzz or I would have had to actually study.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

This is one of the 3 games I said tOSU may not win. I was wrong about Michigan State possibly beating us at home, but Sparty is not the usual Fighting Izzo's we are accustomed to battling. Its extremely hard to win on the road in the B1G. I hope I am wrong, but there is no shame in losing in West Lafayette. Our lack of bench players being used is becoming more and more apparent. They guys are starting to run out of gas. But I still think this is a great and special team and could definately make some waves in the tourney. And if the shooting stays hot, the defense stays stingy, and we continue to limit turnovers, we will be hard for anyone to beat. Go Bucks.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

TLB's picture

With all the losses this week in the top 10, a win should almost sew up a #1 seed.

RBuck's picture

I want a win today like everyone else but, it not going to kill my Sunday as long as the BasketBucks play a good game but lose. The "W" I want badly is on 3/6/11 when I can post "deal with it" on Bucky's 5th.

Long live the southend.

themostbrian's picture

This is a huge game for us because of these reasons:

1. Has our psyche recovered from losing a 15 point lead on the road last Saturday? This is our first road game since then and it's against another elite opponent - When Purdue starts making a run today, how do we respond? Do we start to think 'here we go again..'?

2. It's one of our last guaranteed chances to play a real quality opponent before the tournament - This game and then home against Wisconsin are all that's left. There are simply no guarantees that we'll see either of them against in the B10 tourney. This is important for the experience of playing another quality opponent and also to impress the seedmakers.

3. JaJuan Johnson - Can we figure out how to guard him? We're going to come up against defensive puzzles like him and Leuer and others in the tournament and if we let them go off on us, it could be an early exit - We can't always rely on an offensive explosion to give us the win - And I think we learned that against Wisconsin. Limiting JaJuan is the key to today's game.

Reens's picture

I think you're making this a bigger deal than it really is. I'd love to see a win today, but it's on the road against a team that OSU embarrassed - they'll be out for blood.

1. I think that blowing a 15pt lead is awful, but this team has lost 1 game all season. If anyone is thinking "here we go again", they haven't watched this team much. It's not anywhere close to a trend that we've seen.

2. Agreed.

3. JaJuan is an obvious key but he's going to get his points and he can have them. The main trend that we've all noticed with this team is that they're D is getting soft and it's no secret that our permiter D has some holes.

Personally, I want to see how Sullinger responds - he's looked so frustrated the past few games that it has me a little concerned. Thad needs to help calm that before the tourney.

poguemahone's picture

Well, blowing big leads has been a trend (think Michigan, Penn State, others I can't recall of the top of my head). Losing after blowing a big lead has not been.

Reens's picture

We're going to have to agree to disagree because OSU was up by 10 on UM and Penn State was in the game the whole time...and leading at one point late. Blowing a lead is different than a team going on a run. Those runs happen all the time (not that you need me to tell you) but OSU blew the lead against Wisky. They allowed open shots and couldn't counter with their own.

moregontrail's picture

Are you sure about that all time series record?  Everywhere else I have seen it lists it as 82-82 including multiple Purdue sites

Jason Priestas's picture

Purdue leads the all-time series with the Buckeyes 82-76. The Boilermakers are 53-24 vs. the Buckeyes in West Lafayette.

Hoody Wayes's picture

BUCKSFANXC was right, regarding the meaninglessness of this game - now, defeat. 

However, the Bucks haven't been very sharp, the past three games. Fatigue?

Lack of depth seems to be looming, as Ohio State's major obstacle.