Mistakes and cold shooting were too much to overcome for the No. 20 Ohio State men’s basketball team on Wednesday night as the Buckeyes fell to Purdue, 67-60, for their first loss of the season.
Justice Sueing led the Buckeyes with 14 points, and Duane Washington Jr. added 13 points, but the team combined to shoot just 37% from the field and 25% from three. Defensively, the Buckeyes had no answer for junior forward Trevion Williams, who nearly recorded a triple-double with 16 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann sent a message to his team with his starting lineup, which didn’t include seniors Kyle Young and C.J. Walker for the first time this season. Already down a critical post presence in sophomore forward E.J. Liddell, freshman Zed Key got the nod for the first start of his career.
The offensive woes for Ohio State were apparent from the early moments of the game, missing on two of its first eight shots as it fell behind, 10-5, early in the first half.
It didn’t take long for Holtmann to get Young and Walker into the game as the two seniors checked in less than three minutes into the opening half.
Ohio State appeared to settle into a rhythm offensively despite the early deficit, putting together a 15-5 run to take a five-point lead at 20-15 with 9:08 remaining in the half. But as fast as OSU could establish a lead, Purdue quickly stormed back with a run of its own, using a 9-2 spurt to recapture the lead at 24-22 as the first-half clock ticked below 6:31.
Purdue built its first-half lead to as many as eight points as Ohio State’s backside defense struggled to keep the Boilermakers from easy finishes at the rim. Jaden Ivey’s layup at the two-minute mark gave the Boilermakers a 36-28 lead, leaving the Buckeyes scrambling to not let the game get away from them before the break.
Ohio State responded well to the challenge, getting a three-point play from Jimmy Sotos and a layup from Musa Jallow to quickly cut the deficit to 36-33 with just over a minute remaining in the half. But yet another Purdue layup, this time from Mason Gillis, sent the Boilermakers into the locker room with a 38-33 lead over the Buckeyes.
The defensive lapses by Ohio State continued into the second half. Following a turnover by Jallow, Williams’ layup pushed the Purdue lead back to eight points just three minutes into the second half. A couple of possessions later, Eric Hunter Jr.’s dunk had the Boilermakers up by 10 points, their largest lead of the game at the time.
In desperate need of an answer to stem the growing tide, Ohio State responded with a 6-0 run to get itself back into the game. Washington Jr.’s layup capped the run, cutting Purdue’s lead to 48-44 with 14:22 remaining in the game.
As was the case for much of the night, however, Ohio State simply wasn’t able to sustain momentum. Purdue’s Brandon Newman ended the Buckeyes’ run with a three-pointer, and made threes by Aaron Wheeler and Hunter Jr. minutes later had the Boilermakers out in front by 14 points as the game grew late.
Still, Ohio State continued to fight. Following a missed jumper by Key, an offensive rebound by Walker led to a three from Washington Jr., getting the Buckeyes to within six points at 65-59 with 2:54 to play.
That would be as close as Ohio State would get, though, as Washington Jr.’s basket would be the last made field goal for the Buckeyes over the final three minutes. Justin Ahren’s missed three-pointer just before the final horn pushed Ohio State’s cold streak to 0-6 to finish the game, sending the Buckeyes to 5-1 on the season.
Following the game, Holtmann said of his team, “My initial thought is we need to play with more force and physicality, both offensively and defensively. I didn’t think we were as physical as we needed to be for this league, and then I did not think we played with enough poise in the last five minutes of the game, offensively, when it was a two-possession game.
“So, we have to learn from those two things. We’ve done a pretty good job at that, but again, give Purdue credit. They’re a good defensive team, and they made it difficult for us.”
Ohio State will look to get back on track on Saturday when it takes on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in Cleveland. The Buckeyes were originally scheduled to take on North Carolina, but Ohio State announced on Wednesday that the matchups were shuffled to align teams with similar COVID-19 testing protocols. Tipoff for the game is 4:15 p.m.