Ohio State, fresh off an 81-57 blowout win over Nebraska, will be without starting center Anthony Lee for a fifth-straight game Sunday when the Buckeyes host Purdue, head coach Thad Matta said Saturday.
Lee, who is averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, has been battling a lingering groin injury which Matta recently said the team "can't quite figure out exactly what's wrong."
Lee's absence is especially important in this game against the Boilermakers because of their pair of 7-footers inside: A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. The duty of controlling Purdue's pair of bigs now falls solely on the shoulders of Ohio State's Amir Williams and Trey McDonald.
"They are going to have to play, there is no question about that," Matta said. "Whoever we have is going to have to get the job done. It’s all five guys, we can’t pin it on one guy to stop somebody, everybody has to be involved with it.”
The Buckeyes' star freshman guard, D'Angelo Russell, who left Thursday's win over the Cornhuskers with just over 12 minutes to play and did not return due to a cramping issue, is "good to go" Sunday against the Boilermakers, according to Matta.
"He's good. He was fine, could have gone back in the game and we obviously just choose to sit him out the remainder of it, he’ll be full-go (in practice) today," Matta said of Rusell. "He has a little bit of a thigh bruise. He got hit — I can’t remember what game it was — but he got hit again the other night, that’s all good as well.”
Ohio State and Purdue tip Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on BTN. The Boilermakers are currently tied for second in the Big Ten at 11-4, while the Buckeyes are in a tie for fifth at 9-6.
- When asked why Ohio State is such a better team at home, Matta didn't really have an answer. The Buckeyes have only played one game all season decided by single-digits at the Schottenstein Center (a 71-65 loss to Iowa on Dec. 30). "I don't know," Matta said, laughing. "Maybe just from the standpoint fo the way our schedule has been this year you kind of cherish coming home."
- Matta said the keys to facing the Boilermakers are transition defense and keeping them off the foul line. "They’ve got a good blend of young and old and when you have Hammons inside and the other kid, they’ve got a very good balance so I think that makes them dangerous team.”
- Matta said he needs a big game out of Amir Williams tomorrow going up against Hammons. "We need Amir Williams to play, he’s got 80 minutes in this arena left in this career and he needs to cherish and value every one of the minutes he is on the court.”
- Matta said he hasn't really paid much attention to where Ohio State is in the Big Ten standings and its chances of getting a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament. He's more focused on the Buckeyes' next game.
- Matta said he believe there's still time for this year's senior class to finish their legacy. "March can be a defining moment for players, a defining moment for teams. We still have a handful of games left to play.”
- Marc Loving did not play in Ohio State's first matchup with Purdue. He'll be on the floor Sunday for the Buckeyes. "For this game, having Marc Loving back is huge," Matta said. "Seeing Marc bang a couple 3s Thursday night, I am hoping like crazy that he is back and ready to go. His defense was 100 times better Thursday than it was Sunday. Hopefully he is hitting his stride."