Preview: Purdue at Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on February 8, 2014 at 6:00a
Matt Painter and Thad Matta meet tonight at the Schott

My, how quickly things change.

With multiple games each week, college basketball teams’ seasons can fluctuate as much as the stock market, with win-loss charts resembling the Millennium Force or, in some cases, the Demon Drop.

Who Where WHEN TV
Purdue (14-9, 4-6) The Schott 6:00 p.m. BTN (BTN2GO)

Ohio State’s season has already played witness to supreme highs and possibly the lowest moments(s) of the Thad Matta era. The Buckeyes started 15-0, a streak that included an improbable final-minute comeback over Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden. But a four-game losing streak and five losses in six games during the month of January halted lofty expectations.

Now, February has proven to be a refuge. Ohio State’s won consecutive road games over ranked opponents for the first time this century. The last time it happened – 1999 – the Buckeyes advanced to the Final Four. No one is predicting a sequel, at least not yet. Instead, it’s just more proof how wacky the Big Ten and college basketball season is.

“With all the parity in the standings right now, it’s maybe as challenging as I’ve seen it, just in terms of teams are losing at home,” Matta said. “The quote unquote bottom of the league obviously can beat anybody on any given evening. It definitely makes for the brutality of what you go through every single night.”

Opponent Breakdown

With a month remaining in college basketball’s regular season, Purdue is on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers, coming off a win in a triple-overtime thriller over Minnesota, are 4-6 in the Big Ten. But a three-game stretch against Ohio State, archrival Indiana and Michigan State could thrust them to the top half of the conference.

To reach that level, Purdue will need to perform at its highest level of the season. Attempting to pave the Boilermakers’ path with yellow bricks are seniors Travis Carroll and Terone Johnson. The duo’s plan includes turning leadership into positive on-court results.

Johnson is at or near the top in every offensive category.Terone Johnson is Purdue's best offensive option.

Carroll and Johnson share the same major – organizational leadership and supervision – and believe some simple classroom lessons could translate into better basketball.

“There are so many different leadership styles, and you can really pull parts from each of the styles,” Carroll told reporters. “Usually there’s not one person that’s the same with how they lead a group of people. I try to pull some parts from everything I’ve learned in those classes and try to be the best leader I can be.”

The makeup of Purdue’s current roster contains a bridge. There are five seniors, but that’s where the scholarship upperclassmen end. The remainder of the roster is freshmen and sophomores – 10 in all. That’s where Carroll and Johnson’s leadership philosophy comes into play.

The veteran Boilermakers are trying to lead by example and exhibit an unselfish demeanor on the court. The hope is it will become contagious and contribute to more wins. Carroll plays fewer than 10 minutes per game, but his impact is felt greatly in practice and the locker room.

“Travis has done a great job of just coming to work every day and really being committed,” head coach Matt Painter said. “No matter if he plays a little bit, a lot, whatever, he shows up the next day and plugs and works hard and always has a positive word for his teammates.”

Johnson leads the team in scoring (12.6 points) and minutes played (30.7), and is second in assists (2.2), third in steals (0.9) and fourth in rebounds (3.9). He’s also the best three-point threat. Simply put, Johnson is a cornerstone in Purdue’s success.

Proving his leadership speech is legit, Johnson’s scoring – and shot output – has decreased since Big Ten play started, while his assists and rebounds have increased.

“He is the face of our team, and he’s a great player,” fellow senior Sterling Carter said. “He’s realized that he doesn’t have to do it all by himself, and he’s been a great teammate. He’s been giving up the ball when he’s supposed to. He’s been trying to play a little bit better defenses.”

With a three-game gauntlet awaiting, Carroll and Johnson’s effectiveness will be on full display in the win-loss column. Positive results could yield a return to meaningful March basketball for Purdue.

Buckeye Breakdown

As Ohio State was in the midst of its worst stretch in years, Aaron Craft was experiencing his first prolonged losing spell ever. In high school, Craft was an all-state athlete in both basketball and football for state juggernaut Findlay Liberty-Benton. Undefeated seasons in the fall and winter/spring were the norm, not a month-long nosedive.

One week ago, it appeared a season-defining loss was going to take place at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes trailed by eight points with less than eight minutes remaining. But Craft took over, and he hasn’t let up.

Rosy cheeks and floor burns.At Iowa, it was vintage Craft.

At the four-minute mark, Craft had zero points. He would score seven straight to lead Ohio State to its biggest win of the season. Three nights later, he had one of the finest performances of his career. Craft finished with 17 points, six steals and six assists as he guided the Buckeyes to another signature win.

“I hope we can build off that,” Craft said.

His impact wasn’t limited to offense. Of course, Craft displayed the usual tools that make him a defensive stalwart. Iowa guard Roy Devyn Marble scored 22 points against Ohio State in January, but he was limited to 10 points and four turnovers Tuesday.

“I think we’ve finally found our groove,” junior center Amir Williams said. “We’re playing together, and I think once we continue to play together as a team we're one of the best teams in the Big Ten.”

For the Buckeyes, it’s better late than never. From doom and gloom to smiles and laughter, it’d been a whirlwind five weeks.


  • Purdue leads the all-time series with Ohio State 83-80. The Buckeyes have won five of the last six meetings overall and eight of nine in Columbus. 
  • Thad Matta is 15-6 against the Boilermakers in his career. 
  • Aaron Craft is four field goals shy of 400 for his career, which would make him just the sixth Ohio State player to tally 400 career field goals and play 4,000 or more minutes. The others are William Buford, Jon Diebler, David Lighty, Jamar Butler and Herb Williams.

Comments Show All Comments

TMac's picture

Keep  it Going Craft!! We need this one!

ONE Not Done!

+2 HS
BigRedBuckeye's picture

New format doesn't seem to a show TV info, unless I'm missing it.

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

Doc's picture

It's on BTN @ 6:00. I saw it on a commercial last night. 

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

rosycheeks's picture

I thought the same thing, but it's there. Top right corner of the story section. Funny how our eyes work sometimes...change one little thing and we're a mess :)

pabdublin78's picture

We have a shot at going on a nice winning streak here so let's keep rolling and hope our shooting can warm up a little more.  Stay focused on this one and not look ahead to TTUN.  

Doc's picture

Let's go boys!  Beat the Boilers!

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

+1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Be at " The Nut House" for your "Schott Treatment" . GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

+1 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

Everybody talking bout our shooting.... im more concerned with Purdue's shooting.  The last couple of years they have had guys go for big points on us.  So long as we hold people to 15 or below points wise we should be alright.  If we let one of their scorers get 25-35 points we are screwed unless Q-Ross has a big night as well

bucksfan92's picture

The Iowa game gives me a little hope that the tailspin might be behind us, but there is a lot of work to do for this OSU team to get into the tourney.  I hope we can finally put away an opponent that we should beat handily, and did beat handily at their place in January.

As a side note - you have the all-time series info incorrect.  OSU has an 86-83 lead in the series and is the only school to have a +.500 mark over the Boilers.

Killer nuts's picture

Gotta protect home court and keep our winning ways, let's go Bucks!

KCAlum's picture

Let's keep the streak going at home.  This is one of the most wacky basketball seasons since, maybe '05 at least!

southbay's picture

I think the Buckeyes need to do a better job against Purdue's big center this time, but Amir's confidence is surging again so I think it will be good.

Youngbuck85's picture

I think well blow them out, the boys will have their swagger back after the last two games

headina's picture

Please show up tonight. Cannot afford another terrible conference loss. 


thePhilipJFry's picture

In one sense Kyle is correct in saying the past two games wouldn't have been wins without Aaron Craft's much improved play.  However I believe that opponents 3 point shooting was a much bigger factor.  Wisconsin hit 3 of 17 3 point shots when hitting their normal 30-45% would have put the game well out of reach and Craft's effort would have been seen as too little too late.  Iowa hit 3 out of 20 3 point attempts (normally 30-45% range), it's a much different game if 3-4 more of those drop. 

Oakland Buckeye's picture

Missing the "box score" stats that used to be done in 'preTate" era... ;)

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Amir seems like he is finally getting the "eye of the tiger", having a big man who can plug up the middle and throw down a few slams is huge.  The last two games the bucks showed a lot of character, my primary concern aside from the ongoing offensive struggles is the interior defense.  The bucks have the best perimeter defense in the country one of the commentators said in the last game, but down low the bucks just don't seem to be able to block out.  Great group of kids with a lot of heart, hope they start to gel here near the end of the season.  If Ross can up his scoring production by even a couple of points that could be a difference maker.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

GoBucks713's picture


-The Aristocrats!