I can not think of enough superlatives to describe how well the Buckeyes played in thoroughly handling No. 12 Purdue. OSU never trailed, opened up a massive first-half lead and for once did not take its foot off the pedal. Rather, the Buckeyes kept their foot situated squarely on the throat of the Boilermakers.
Purdue had one thing going for it in this one – JaJuan Johnson's perimeter shooting – and it took them much of the first half to figure that out. E'Twaun Moore was clearly off, and that was a major blow to Purdue's chances of pulling off the upset. If he was on, it might have been a different game.
But even given that scenario, it is difficult for me to envision a scenario in which the Buckeyes lose to anyone in the country when they play the kind of basketball a national television audience saw in this one.
So many writers – myself included – pegged this game as a showdown between Johnson and OSU's freshman star Jared Sullinger. Instead, as I wrote in my game story, this was a showcase for how balanced the Buckeyes are.
Who is your star of the game? You could make a convincing argument for a number of players. Jon Diebler was all over the glass and making heady, mature plays on offense. William Buford's jumper was as smooth as it has looked all season and it was him who got things rolling with a pair of treys in the opening minutes. Sullinger was … well, Sullinger.
It remains a possibility that the Buckeyes have exposed the Boilermakers for what they are: a decent team that faces an uphill battle as the season goes on without star Robbie Hummel. There are plenty of good pieces, but nothing that truly makes them anything resembling a national title contender.
But even if Purdue goes in the tank as the season stretches on, this remains an impressive victory for the Buckeyes. A team can not be labeled as overrated if no one exposes them.
I think … that Buford's performance was made even more impressive by the fact that he had two first-half fouls and played with three for much of the second half.
This was his best game of the season, by far. There have been a number of occasions in which Buford starts hot and disappears or others where foul trouble conspires to keep him from establishing any sort of offensive rhythm. On this night, he never let up and consistently threw the dagger into Purdue's chances for a comeback.
Couple that with the fact that he had suffered an injured ankle in the road win against Illinois and it makes his performance all the more impressive.
I think … that Deshaun Thomas' play in the last two games give Matta a serious shot in the arm as he looks forward to the rest of Big Ten play.
To come off the bench in the way that he did and contribute 13 points while getting 12 shots in 24 minutes gave the Buckeyes a needed boost offensively, particularly with Buford and David Lighty battling first-half foul trouble.
Thomas is score-first and always will be. You have to reconcile that with yourself when you judge him as a player, but he has absolutely no qualms about taking a shot in a big game. That is an impressive quality for a freshman to possess.
He might be the seventh man on the team, but I view him as the sixth. His impact is consistently greater than that of starter Dallas Lauderdale, who although he did play well in this one only saw 21 minutes and added four points, three fouls and one rebound.
I think … that a special shout-out goes to Jon Diebler for his career-high eight rebounds pulled down against the Boilermakers.
Purdue's athleticism made them a potential glass-cleaning team and as such head coach Thad Matta had preached that his guard would need to help out on the boards as much as possible. In this game, Diebler attacked the ball with an extra sense of purpose and showed more outward aggression than we see from him on a given night.
Maybe he felt the need to atone for his role in the "Party in the O-S-U" video.