Ohio State Shocks No. 2 Purdue, 73-69, in First Game Under Interim Head Coach Jake Diebler

By Andy Anders on February 18, 2024 at 3:14 pm

Waves of catharsis flooded Ohio State's players as waves of fans stormed the court at Value City Arena.

The Buckeyes (15-11, 5-10 Big Ten) pulled off a stunning upset of No. 2 Purdue (23-3, 12-3) in 73-69 fashion on Sunday. It was OSU's first game under interim head coach Jake Diebler after former head coach Chris Holtmann was fired on Wednesday.

#2 PURDUE 30 39 69
OHIO STATE 35 38 73

Ohio State's challenge seemed insurmountable entering Sunday. Having just sacked their head coach, they had to welcome the Boilermakers into the Schott, featuring reigning National Player of the Year Zach Edey.

Everything seemed to work Ohio State against as it tried to cling to its double-digit second-half lead, with Purdue getting the benefit of an 11-8 advantage in foul calls during the second period, even after they were fouling late to extend the game.

But it was Bruce Thornton's 22 points, Jamison Battle's 19 – all in the second half – and huge supporting performances from Zed Key and Dale Bonner that won the day for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes generated turnovers against the Boilermakers and took advantage, scoring 22 points off turnovers. Key collected a career-high five steals.

Edey grabbed 22 points while Braden Smith, Trey Kaufman-Renn and Lance Jones all scored double-figures in a losing effort for Purdue.

First half

Purdue pushed the envelope out of the gate, opening the game on an 8-0 run capped by an old-fashioned three-point play from Kaufman-Renn.

Thornton responded by scoring each of the Buckeyes' first eight points, with a triple and a second-chance turnaround jumper cutting the Boilermakers lead to 12-8.

Zed Key made an early impact for Ohio State, swiping Edey twice in one possession and drawing a charge against him in another. On offense, Key hit a triple, finished a layup through a crowd of defenders and dimed up Roddy Gayle Jr. for a dunk that tied the game at 16 with 10:24 left in the half.

Edey finally got his offense going, collecting four points to help Purdue press its advantage to 28-21, but Key answered with a floater.

That floater launched a 14-2 extended run to close the half for the Buckeyes.

Freshman forwards Austin Parks and Devin Royal accounted for six of the points while Thornton grabbed four more and the Buckeyes pulled ahead 35-30 at halftime, drawing a standing ovation from its roaring home crowd.

Each of the last 12 points in the 14-2 run came from either a freshman or sophomore.

Second half

73 POINTS 69
28-58 (48.3%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 23-53 (43.4%)
7-21 (33.3%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 3-9 (33.3%)
10-11 (90.9%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 20-20 (100%)

Momentum kept building for Ohio State.

Key flushed down an alley-oop and the entire student section joined in his signature "raise the roof" celebration, then Jamison Battle got involved, nailing a three from the top of the key.

A melee for the ball ensued as Purdue failed to convert on its next possession, but Evan Mahaffey was able to force it back into Bonner's hands, who swung it to Battle for another triple.

One last time, a steal from Key led to another transition triple for Battle over the outstretched arms of a defender. With the help of his teammates' defense, Battle had just capped a 9-0 personal run that put Ohio State up 50-38 with 14:20 to play.

Purdue answered with a quick five points, Bonner collected a floater and a layup to make the lead double digits again at 54-43.

The Boilermakers responded with a 6-0 run this time, cut off by a Thornton mid-range jumper. Ohio State led 56-49 with 7:48 remaining.

Thornton pushed the Buckeyes' edge back to seven points twice after Purdue cut it to five, then when the Boilermakers cut it to four, a three from the right wing by Bonner made it 65-58 Ohio State with 3:56 to play. But Felix Okpara picked up his fifth foul and had to leave the game.

A 7-0 run from Purdue, capped by a three from Jones, tied the game for the first time in the second half.

Battle had the answer, knocking down a contested mid-range jumper and the clock ticked under a minute.

Then it was Battle again getting to the line and cashing in two free throws to make it 69-65 OSU with 34 seconds left.

Edey cut it to 69-67 with a dunk on the other end, but a well-executed press break from Ohio State sent Thornton to the line with eight seconds left for a one-and-one. He sank both free throws to sink the dagger into Purdue's side.

What's next

Ohio State hopes to snap its school record-tying 16-game road losing streak when it travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on Thursday with BTN set to carry the contest.

Game notes

  • Ohio State toyed with a new lineup that featured Parks at center alongside fellow freshmen Royal and Scotty Middleton. The only non-freshmen on the floor were sophomores Thornton and Gayle. It was that group that catalyzed the team's 14-2 run at the end of the first half.
  • The field goal Parks scored in the first half was the first of his collegiate career.
  • Battle picked up three first-half fouls, severely restricting his minutes that period. He played 10 in the first half and scored zero points before his 19-point second-half outburst.
  • Nine different players saw double-digit minutes for Ohio State.
  • Attendance for the Buckeyes' game against Purdue was 18,353, a season high.
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