COLUMBUS — Ohio State got it done on both ends of the floor on Saturday as they overwhelmed the Purdue Boilermakers, 68-52, in Value City Arena.
Kyle Young led Ohio State with 16 points — a career-high — and six rebounds, while Kaleb Wesson added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes, who rode a hot first-half shooting performance from three to their fifth win in their last six games.
Evan Boudreaux scored a game-high 17 points for Purdue, but the Boilermakers managed to shoot just 35 percent for the game, connected on only four of their 20 three-point attempts, and turned the ball over 16 times in a dreadful offensive performance.
“I thought our defense was as good and as sound as we’ve played all year,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said following the game. “I thought our defensive consistency was good.”
Much like they did in their win over Rutgers earlier this week, Ohio State got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 10-3 lead over the first four minutes of the game as Purdue (14-12, 7-8) struggled to find the basket.
A three-pointer by Wesson got the scoring started for the Buckeyes, and following an answer from Purdue’s Jahaad Proctor, Andre Wesson got in on the action with a three of his own to give Ohio State the early 6-3 lead.
The Ohio State lead grew to as many as 12 in the first half following back-to-back three-pointers by Duane Washington and Justin Ahrens around the seven-minute mark, which capped an 8-0 run for the Buckeyes to push the score to 24-12.
A scoring drought would follow for Ohio State, however, as they would go scoreless for more than five minutes. Despite the lengthy scoring drought, Purdue was only able to get within six points on a layup from Trevion Williams with 2:15 left in the half.
“That’s a mindset thing, that’s a toughness thing,” Holtmann said of his team’s ability to stay locked in on defense while struggling on offense. “If you’re going to waver on (the defensive) end, if that’s tied to your offense, then you are one soft group. And we weren’t today.”
Andre Wesson’s layup on the following possession ended Ohio State’s scoring drought, and Washington’s jumper on the Buckeyes’ final possession of the first half sent them into the locker room with a 29-20 advantage.
The Buckeyes shot better than 46 percent in the opening period, including going 5-10 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Ohio State was able to hold Purdue to just 32 percent shooting over the opening 20 minutes.
Ohio State wasted no time increasing their lead as the second half started, opening on a 7-0 run led by buckets from Kyle Young and Andre Wesson and a three from Luther Muhammad. The quick flurry increased their lead to 36-20, the largest lead of the game for the Buckeyes.
Purdue would fight back, however, and a pair of free throws from Matt Haarms cut the Ohio State lead to 11 points at 41-30 with 12:54 remaining in the game.
Turnovers began to pile up for Ohio State and aid Purdue’s cause, and the Buckeyes’ 12th and 13th giveaways of the game both led to Purdue baskets that cut the lead to single digits at 45-36 with 10:17 left in the game.
But as they did all day, Ohio State would punch right back by way of the three-pointer. Kaleb Wesson’s three pushed the lead back to 12 points for the Buckeyes, and Muhammad followed with his second three of the game to increase the lead to 15 points as the clock ticked below nine minutes to play.
The lead grew to its largest margin of 17 points at 53-36 following a pair of made free throws from Kaleb Wesson with 7:33 remaining, and Ohio State would cruise over the final stretch to secure an important win as the home stretch of the Big Ten schedule comes into focus.
Holtmann said of his team’s win, which he acknowledged was far from flawless, “I just think it’s hard to beat teams. I saw this (Purdue) team go in (to Bloomington) and play a good Indiana team (and win) last week, and that can put a little fear into a coach. I thought our guys were aware of that and had great respect for their team.”
Ohio State improves to 17-8 overall and 7-7 in conference play. They will return to the floor next Thursday when they travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in a game Holtmann said will be “as big a challenge as we’ve had.”
Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.