Preview: No. 3 Ohio State at Purdue

By Mike Young on December 31, 2013 at 9:00a
13 Comments
THIS. GUY.Fueling nightmares for 73 years.
Ohio State Buckeyes #3 Ohio State 13-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 1:00 PM ET - ESPN 2 —— Mackey Arena West Lafayette, IN Purdue Boilermakers Purdue 10-3, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

For only the fifth time in school history, Ohio State has won its first 13 games. 

The next 18 will be a steep rise in competition, as the Big Ten features three teams ranked in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls. The transition from Louisiana-Monroe to conference play begins with Purdue, as the New Year's Eve matchup in West Lafayette, Ind., is only the second true road game for the Buckeyes and their first since Marquette, Nov. 16. 

Head coach Thad Matta expects his team to be ready for the challenge. 

"We have 18 battles coming up and the war is decided in March," Matta said, after the ULM game. "From the standpoint of the challenges of that lie ahead, it’s what the guys sign up for when they come to Ohio State.”

The Buckeyes enter Big Ten play as one of only seven undefeated teams in the country, which includes includes rival Wisconsin. The Pac-12 – with Arizona and Oregon – is the only other conference with two undefeated schools. 

Senior wing Lenzelle Smith Jr. is eager to see how Ohio State stacks up in one of the nation's toughest conferences. 

"There are going to be some great challenges and we are going to learn a lot about this team," Smith said, following the win over Louisiana-Monroe. "This is what we have been preparing for all season."

# Name YR HT/WT PTS REB AST P # Name YR HT/WT PTS REB AST
4 A. Craft SR 6-2/195 9.5 3.2 4.6 G 3 R. Johnson SO 6-0/178 10.8 2.7 3.8
3 S. Scott JR 6-1/185 7.6 4.2 4.0 G 35 R. Davis SO 6-5/211 4.8 3.2 1.2
32 L. Smith Jr. SR 6-4/210 13.4 5.2 1.5 G 0 T. Johnson SR 6-4/198 14.0 3.6 2.1
10 L. Ross JR 6-8/220 12.9 5.8 0.6 F 5 B. Smotherman FR 6-5/222 6.4 3.6 0.7
23 A. Williams JR 6-11/250 9.9 7.2 0.3 C 23 J. Simpson FR 6-10/250 5.5 4.5 0.7

Opponent Breakdown

The Purdue program has been in good hands ever since hall of fame coach Gene Keady left in 2005.

FACIALLLLDespite Purdue's struggles, Thompson didn't go easy on them 

Matt Painter inherited a 21-loss squad and got them back into the tournament within two seasons. Last season proved to be one of his biggest challenges, though, as his team entered Big Ten play at 6-6 and finished the season with 18 losses. This year, the Boilermakers are in much better shape, although their marquee win is against a five-loss West Virginia squad.

Still, Purdue sits at 10-3, one of eight Big Ten teams with double-digit wins. Painter is seeing steady improvement from his team since back-to-back losses in late November.

"We were able to out-rebound West Virginia, so that was a good sign," Painter said, during a teleconference, Monday. "We still had some times where we could've put the game away by finishing better or making free-throws, but I thought our mindset was good. That will have to ramp-up even more to give us a chance against Ohio State."

The Boilermakers coach has inserted 10 different players as starters, a sharp contrast to Ohio State having the same starting lineup in all 13 of their games. The constant shuffling of the rotation is partially due to Painter's desire to find consistent production.

"There's no doubt we've made a stride in non-conference since last year," he said. "We still weren't as consistent as I felt we could've been. Hopefully we can learn from it, be a better team and have a better conference season than we did last year."

Buckeye Breakdown

It took almost all of November for the Buckeyes to gain some traction on the offensive end of the floor, but now they're rolling. 

Etc

  • Ohio State is 55-42 overall in Big Ten openers
  • In their first Big Ten road game, Buckeyes are a combined 35-62
  • The last time OSU played on New Year's Eve was in 2011, a loss to Indiana. Their overall record on Dec. 31 is 17-7 

With the exception of the first 39 minutes of the Notre Dame game, Ohio State has found a rhythm. In seven out of the last eight games, OSU has scored 70 or more points. That includes a five-game stretch in which they shot at least 50 percent from the field in each contest.

Most importantly, junior forward LaQuinton Ross put together a strong December and has risen to the team's second leading scorer. Ross is averaging 17.1 points this month after putting up only 8.0 points per game in November. 

Now that he's regained his ability to hit shots, other facets of Ross' game are starting to come along. He had three blocks against Delware and followed that up with double-digit rebounding performances in his last two games. 

"He’s more engaged," Matta said. "I think he’s playing at a higher level and a level we need to play at."

13 Comments

Comments

ATXbucknut's picture

Thank you for the preview.  Go Bucks!

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Nice preview, Mike. I worry about Purdue, because I think Painter is a really top notch coach. His teams almost always overachieve. I think we get the W today, but Purdue will pull at least one big upset in conference play this year. 

buck-I.8's picture

The great thing about basketball, though, is that you don't have to bite your nails every game like football. We don't have to win every game, and we're not expected to. Upsets will happen for and against us, and losses help you learn what to work on. 

Bamabucknut's picture

What a nice treat to watch the Buckeyes on ESPN today. Go Bucks !

bucksfan92's picture

Matta's OSU teams have done well on the road, and in particular at Mackey Arena, beating some very good Purdue teams up there.  I think we will come away with the W today, but it might not be pretty at times.
A couple of interesting tidbits about OSU and PU - OSU is the only B1G team that has a winning record vs PU - we lead by 2 games 85-83 and they have an above .500 record against everyone else. OSU and PU are tied with 22 regular season titles each.  I'd love to take away that crown too!

okiebuck's picture

Life on the road in the B1G is always tough and that strange place known as Mackey Arena is one of the toughest. Bucks will need to start strong today and turn up the pressure on the Boilers and create TO's that lead to fast break buckets. Go Bucks! 

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

SHAKENBAKE68's picture

Great preview and Good Luck to the Bucks!!

There is no such thing as "friendly fire"..

RedStorm45's picture

This game is at 1??

SaltyD0gg's picture

Looks like a good matchup for us, on paper anyway. Their experience and scoring comes at the guard position. We all know what this team does to guards.
Nice little mid-day treat!

Pain of Discipline
Pain of Regret
Take Your Pick

actionstanleyjackson's picture

Really need to get this game....the upcoming schedule sans Nebraska is brutal...Iowa at home and Sparty, Minnesota on the road

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

RBuck's picture

Just saw in Twitterverse that we have Kitts and Valentine today. This game is going to be about 4 hours long.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

tennbuckeye19's picture

Just saw in Twitterverse that we have Kitts and Valentine today. This game is going to be about 4 hours long.

Oh great. I hope Thad and the players don't have any New Year's Eve plans. 

RedStorm45's picture

If only Hightower hadn't retired we'd have the trifecta! (with Sanzere and/or Burr being the stand-in)
 
Interesting to see how the games are called with B1G play starting up.