In one way, Ohio State’s win over Purdue was a familiar sight.
D’Angelo Russell, the star freshman guard, scored 28 points to lift the Buckeyes past the Boilermakers on Sunday night. It was the 13th time he has scored 20 points or more this season.
In another way, it was a night of firsts.
The Buckeyes overcame a double-digit deficit for the first time this season. “We haven’t done this before, getting down in double digits,” said Thad Matta, the Ohio State coach.
And its seniors made their presence known in a way that hadn’t been done yet this season.
“To get a win like this … you hope it give us a shot in the arm as we move forward here,” Matta said.
“As I told the guys, I was very proud of their effort in composure because we didn’t panic … tonight was really a great team win for us. Everybody contributed.”
While Russell carried the load, he had help.
There was Sam Thompson, the acrobatic senior forward, who scored 14 points and threw down dunks to kindle the team’s second-half rally.
There was Shannon Scott, the senior point guard, who knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the 65-61 win over the Boilermakers.
And there was Amir Williams, the maligned senior center, who had three blocks, six points, six rebounds and one steal to round out what was seemingly his best night as a Buckeye.
It was a collective effort that helped Ohio State notch a pivotal win with two games remaining in the regular season. On Wednesday, the Buckeyes play Penn State in State College before their home finale against Wisconsin, the Big Ten leader.
As Matta’s club tries to put the finishing touches on a resume that features robust wins over the Boilermakers, Indiana and Maryland, it will also detail the team’s general inconsistency that has plagued it this season.
The game against Purdue felt like a microcosm of such a notion.
Also perhaps evidenced on Sunday night is how Ohio State might go as far as Russell will take them in the postseason.
The freshman, who’s projected to be a top pick in the NBA Draft next summer if he decides to enter the league after this season, is the kind of player who might be able to will his crew to wins if he gets on a roll.
But when you combine Russell’s basketball acumen and a trio of seniors who have been deep in the postseason before, it makes for an interesting study in examining the sometimes-emblematic the Buckeyes.
Under Matta, Ohio State has yet to lose at home in March.
If its seniors play like they did against Purdue, they’ll have more than just a chance to defend that record against the Badgers this weekend.