Survive and Advance: Buckeyes Eke by Purdue 63-61

By Kyle Rowland on March 13, 2014 at 4:45p

INDIANAPOLIS – The signage inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse makes reference to the Big Ten Tournament. But forgive onlookers if they thought Thursday was the commencement of the annual gathering for the Thad Matta Spring Invitational.

  1 2 F
#12 PURDUE 27 34 61
#5 OHIO STATE 30 33 63

And on Day 1, the namesake notched another victory, as Ohio State topped Purdue 63-61. But it wasn’t until Purdue guard Terone Johnson missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer that the Buckeyes – and Matta – could breath easy.  

“I was under the rim. It looked pretty good to me,” junior forward Sam Thompson said. “[Purdue] had seniors, players that didn’t want their season to end. Anytime you get a team playing like that, it’s going to be a tough matchup.”

In a season filled with inconsistency – disasters and marquee wins alike – Thursday’s near catastrophe fit the script. 

Fifth-seeded Ohio State (24-8) sleepwalked through the afternoon, falling behind the woeful Boilermakers 7-1 and trailing most of the second half. It led assistant coach Dave Dickerson to implore his players to “wake up” with colorful language sprinkled in.

The Buckeyes obliged, but not until midway through the second half. In a game that featured 15 lead changes, Ohio State didn’t take control until the seven-minute mark in the second half. A 12-3 run stifled upset-minded Purdue, who never led the last seven minutes. The Boilermakers got within one twice in the final 1:36, but the Buckeyes did just enough to advance to the quarterfinals.  

“I’m glad we finally won as ugly one,” Matta quipped. “In all seriousness, this was an ugly basketball game. Fortunately for us, we found some ways to make big plays down the stretch both offensively and defensively.”

LaQuinton Ross paced Ohio State with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Aaron Craft scored 16 points, and Amir Williams finished with 10 rebounds. Seven Buckeyes scored, but it wasn’t indicative of the team’s offensive futility.

Ohio State shot 36 percent for the game, made 1 of 14 three-point attempts and 16 of its 25 free throws. 

WILLIAMS 24 9 0 0 3 1 6
ROSS 37 15 0 0 2 3 19
THOMPSON 28 2 1 1 1 2 7
CRAFT 38 2 5 3 1 3 16
SMITH JR. 31 4 1 4 2 1 9

“We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” Matta said. “You have to challenge your guys mentally, you have to challenge your guys physically. You have to hope deep down inside they want to man-up and play their best basketball. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, but found a way to win.” 

No one expected the No. 12 seed Boilermakers to push Ohio State so hard. They entered the tournament on a six-game losing streak and lost to the Buckeyes by a combined 27 points in two meetings this season. In a one-and-done setting, though, March creates stories every year. Purdue nearly added its name to the 2014 version of Madness. 

The back-and-forth started at the opening tip and didn’t end until the teams walked off the court. Ohio State led by three at halftime despite shooting just 36.7 percent. Large stretches of the second half belonged to Purdue before the Buckeyes’ late surge. But a five-point lead nearly evaporated in the final 15 seconds.

The culprit: free throws, of course. Ohio State missed two in the closing seconds that could’ve given it a two-possession lead. Instead, the off-target shots opened the door for Purdue. 

“I tried to step to the line, clear my mind and make those free throws,” said Lenzelle Smith Jr., who missed a free throw that allowed Purdue to hang around. 

The first cracks in the Buckeyes’ lead came when the Boilermakers trimmed a 59-54 deficit to 59-58 with four consecutive points. It was 61-60 with 18.1 seconds remaining when Craft missed one of two free throws. Smith followed with the same sequence at the charity stripe.


  • Ross grabbed 15 rebounds, a career high, to go with his 19 points. OSU is 5-0 when Ross records a double-double.
  • Ohio State's 10 blocked shots tie for second on the B1G tournament single-game list.
  • OSU finished 1-10 from downtown Thursday, and are now 5-31 (.161) in their last three games.

Leading 63-60, Ohio State opted to foul Ronnie Johnson with 2.8 seconds left. Matta is already haunted by one game-tying three in the postseason – Siena’s come-from-behind win in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Johnson made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second. The ball bounced off Smith’s outstretched arms and was awarded to Purdue after an official review. 

With 1.2 seconds to go, Terone Johnson got an open look from the left side of the arc, but it bounced off the rim.

“It’s win or go home, and no one wants to go home,” Smith said. “I’m just a little bit disappointed that we didn’t even play 75 percent capable of how well we’re able to play. Luckily, we were able to get the win.”

Ohio State’s triumph over Purdue is the Buckeyes’ 12th conference tournament win in their past 13 games. Matta, in his 10th season at Ohio State, is 20-5 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament with seven championship game appearances and four titles. 

Purdue ends the season on its first seven-game losing streak since the 2004-05 season.

The Buckeyes play fourth-seeded Nebraska (19-11) at approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN/ESPN 2. 


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

My heart skipped half a beat.  That last 3 by Purdue was on line just a bit short.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

+3 HS
mrspray's picture

When I watched it in (close to) realtime on my phone I thought it bounced in and out and was way closer than it really was. Still a good shot - right on line.

In case you're curious, it's Mr. Spray

+1 HS
bucked up's picture

the last 18 seconds of the game took 10+ minutes to complete. sheesh. I like bball but the end of the game is like watching netflix when it's buffering

+4 HS
BuckeyeinToledo's picture
Going to be a long March guys...



"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

+6 HS
Menexenus's picture

Or a short one.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

+10 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I know Purdon't is a bottom feeder but if they had more talent around Johnson and AJ Hammon, they would be pretty good. Johnson gets electric when he starts up, luckily he was in foul trouble thanks to Scott. Hammon is a brut to deal with and with the lack of consistency with the post players. I'm not surprised this game is a tough one.

but the lack of a consistent 3 point shot is killing them! what was it, 1-11? horrible!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

+1 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Worse!  CBS says 1-14.  Ugh.  Even a mediocre 5-14 and the Bucks would have won easily.

Ferio.  Tego.

Barney's picture

It won't be easy with these guys

Set your gearshift for the high gear of your soul!

seafus26's picture

Matta must have learned from his monumental mistake that got us eliminated from Tourney few years back by mighty Sienna. In closing seconds up by 3 and opposition has to take it length of court; FOUL and they get just 2 free throws.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+3 HS
Zimmy07's picture

I haven't watched the game yet (I have it DVR'd).  I had a game tracker open on the side of my screen and was very surprised to see that we fouled there.  It was the absolute correct thing to do & paid off, IMO.

The BTN game tracker is a bit odd - sections of the game aren't described in text - the score just jumps by significant amounts at times.


+1 HS
yrro's picture

Oddly enough, KenPom's data seems to indicate that making them take the shot is the better choice, if only barely.


JakeBuckeye's picture

I'm not worried about the ugly win. Its tournament time, after all.

+1 HS
Buckeyebrowny919's picture

woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof. On to the next one.

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

This is certainly one of those wins where all you can say is "at least we won".

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

+1 HS
AJW_16's picture

Not sure how to feel. It is Purdue, and OSU should definitely have handled them more easily, but it does seem like they came out flat (have no idea how; this team can lose to anyone) AND the tourney is all about surviving and advancing. Get a good night's sleep and come out more sharp for Nebrasketball.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

nburns18's picture

If we would have hit more 3's and not have missed so many bunnies this game wouldnt have been close. we were beating ourselves. not making free throws hurt too. I expect to see a more efficient team tomorrow against nebraska

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

+1 HS
TheShookster's picture

Aaron Craft shot the ball 16 times according to the stats. You guys might grimace at that, but I actually loved seeing him put the ball up so much. If 2 more of his layups or one of his threes go in he's got 20 points, and that's huge for this team.

He ain't even stretch doe!!

Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

Hammons blatantly walked on the basket to cut the lead down to 1 with under 30 seconds left.

Craft and his steals saved the game.

-1 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

So funny reading through a Purdue message board game thread. They complained about the refs the entire game, saying calls were one-sided. I'm not sure they watched the same game I did. Hammons could've fouled out at least twice.

+4 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

I thought Amir Williams had a terrific game today. Anyone care to disagree?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+3 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

I don't know if I'd go terrific, but it was a decent showing. Still had some annoying fouls, turnovers, and missed free throws (like everyone else), but I thought he played well overall.

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Huh?  Seemed to be getting the ball taken out of his hands every time I saw him. I E nothing out of the ordinary.'s picture

A win is a win. Matta and the Buckeyes do a great job in the Big 10 Tournament. I don't know if their record will ever be broken. I'm sure they'll all be very focused tomorrow against Nebraska.

+1 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

With this year's team, my advice to my fellow Buckeyes: While watching the game, please keep some medication within reach and better yet...Don't watch alone.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Absolute joke what they let Hammons get away with. He was hacking and over the back all game long. He wouldn't have made it out of the first half if the refs were legit. Total joke. 

+2 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Forgot that ridiculous continuation they gave him on the block by Dela Vella. I swear the refs had Hammons in a fantasy league. 

+3 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Well, it was an ugly game ....played by two butt-ugly teams.  Sorry boys, but it's the truth. 

On the other hand, it is difficult in ANY league to beat the same team 3 times in the same year.  Ask Villanova.  They punk slapped Seton Hall twice this year, only to lose today.  It's just hard to win 3 times, period.

Let's hope our boys were looking ahead to NEB tomorrow.  (who would've thought that comment would be typed at the end of this year, LOL).  I have a good feeling about tomorrow...then all bets are off.

+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Wasn't able to see the game but glad I missed it. The 3 point shooting is one thing but these missed FTs are going to burn us sooner or later. 

+2 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

The bucks beat one of the better teams in the country by two points and next game beat one of the weaker teams in the country by two points.  Hey .... at least we're consistent!

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

+3 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture


Class of 2010.

+3 HS
OSUFlash's picture

36% from the field + 64% from the FT line + 7% from behind the arc = a ticket home early


Horvath22's picture

Where's Johnny Miner when you need him?

Zimmy07's picture

The box score says that Illinois had the lead & the ball w/ 20 seconds left against TSUN but couldn't finish.  I'm thinking we can win that one tomorrow.