Buckeyes Slam Door Shut On Boilermakers

The Ohio State men's basketball team continued its winning ways on Saturday, beating Purdue by a score of 67-49. The Buckeyes beat down of the Boilermakers marked OSU's third straight win heading into Tuesday's primetime battle with Michigan.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. was in a significantly better mood.

And for good reason.

There were no tears to be fought back this time for the Ohio State guard, who scored 16 points in the Buckeyes' 67-49 win over Purdue on Saturday. Smith's demeanor in his postgame press conference was a stark contrast from the ranting and raving that followed OSU's loss to Penn State on Jan. 29.

"We've been winning. It's as simple as that," Smith said. "When we win, I feel good. When we lose, I feel bad. We're playing for one another. We're lifting each other up."

The final score wasn't necessarily indicative of just how easy Saturday's win came for the Buckeyes, who led Purdue by a 48-45 margin with 8:33 remaining in the game. Despite another nail-biter seeming inevitable for Ohio State, the Buckeyes reeled off an 8-0 run that was bookended by a pair of 3-point shots from Smith.

"I know if I can show my teammates that I can hit one or two 3s, I know they're going to look for me," Smith said. "It's a great feeling knowing that the ball's coming to you."

Ohio State ultimately held Purdue to just four points in the game's final nine minutes, ending the game on a 19-4 run to seal its third consecutive win.

The Buckeyes entered the second half with a 31-25 advantage but soon stretched their lead to double-digits when a Shannon Scott layup gave OSU a 46-36 lead with 13:23 remaining in the second half. But the Boilermakers wouldn't go away quietly, reeling off a 9-2 run to cut the Buckeyes' lead to three.

"They were shooting like 65 percent. I just said, 'Hey, we have to draw the line here," OSU head coach Thad Matta said. "We gotta get consecutive stops. We felt like we could score on the other end."

Defense was the key for Ohio State down the stretch, as six Purdue turnovers highlighted the Buckeyes' final run. The Buckeyes ultimately forced 15 Boilermaker turnovers and converted them into 18 points, while also limiting Purdue to a 42 percent shooting percentage.

"It all stimulated from our defense," Smith said of the Buckeyes' final run. "Our stops led to great offense obviously for us and it picks us up as a team. It gives us great energy."

Forward LaQuinton Ross scored a game-high 17 points for the Buckeyes, while Amir Williams and Scott each added nine and Sam Thompson scored eight. Ohio State also limited Boilermaker big man A.J. Hammons to 11 points, after the Purdue center scored 18 points against the Buckeyes in December.

"Everybody in the arena new where they were trying to go," Matta said of Hammons. "I thought we crowded the floor well."

The first half saw the Boilermakers jump out to a 6-0 run, but Ohio State took control with a 10-0 stretch of its own. The Buckeyes stretched their lead to nine points with a Ross layup with 4:31 remaining the stanza before Purdue narrowed the gap with a 9-0 run. A Thompson three and Smith jumper negated that stretch, but a Rapheal Davis three with 33 seconds remaining cut the Buckeyes lead back to six.

With its third straight win in the books, Ohio State now looks forward to a Tuesday matchup with No. 10 Michigan in Columbus. The Wolverines will be the second highest ranked opponent that the Buckeyes will have faced all season and could ultimately prove to be their toughest test of the year.

"We play That Team Up North. You can bet everybody's going to be playing their best basketball," Smith said. "We just have to. We're playing them."

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