After Evan Turner had committed game-changing mistakes at the end of both halves of regulation, it was the freshman guard who came up with arguably the game-clinching play in Ohio State's 80-77 victory against Purdue.
With the Buckeyes clinging to a two-point lead, Turner got the ball near the three-point arc and with the shot clock winding down. As he had done for much of the second half, he took his man off the dribble, drove the basket and connected with 25.8 seconds remaining.
The four-point lead would prove to be too much for the visiting Boilermakers to overcome, and just like that the Buckeyes finally had the quality win that was sorely missing from their resume'.
"I feel like things finally went our way for once," senior guard Jamar Butler said. "All season it seemed like we're on the other end. Today we stepped up and made big plays toward the end of the game and came out with the win."
The victory snaps OSU's four-game losing streak and keeps hopes alive for a No. 5 seed – and the ensuing first-day bye – in the Big Ten Tournament.
In all, the game was tied 10 times and featured 16 lead changes. The final tie came with 1:58 remaining in overtime when Purdue guard E'Twaun Moore connected on a heavily contested three-pointer to knot the score at 72.
This time, though, the Buckeyes (18-12, 9-8 Big Ten) were able to answer. Senior forward Othello Hunter missed a shot, but classmate Matt Terwilliger – who spelled freshman center Kosta Koufos for the final 11:25 of the game – crashed the boards and tipped the rebound to Turner. He redirected the ball to Hunter, who was fouled on a dunk attempt.
Hunter went to the line and sunk both free throws to give OSU a two-point lead with 1:27 remaining, and a turnover on an inbounds pass that was tipped by Hunter gave the Buckeyes the ball with just less than a minute remaining, setting up Turner's basket.
Purdue (23-7, 14-3) answered with a trey by guard Robbie Hummel with 20 seconds remaining, but OSU salted the victory away with free throws by both Butler and Turner.
"Evan's shot there to give us the four-point lead kind of crawled in," Matta said. "How many times have we seen those not go in for us? It appeared that they had just a little bit of a different look. I don't know what it was."
Whatever it was, it was enough to send home a late-arriving announced sellout crowd of 19,049 happy.
The basket in the final minute of overtime was redemption for Turner, who had committed costly gaffes at the end of both halves. With the score tied at 64, the Buckeyes had a chance to win in regulation. The ball found its way into Turner's hands, but his drive to the basket instead resulted in his fourth turnover of the game.
That came after Turner fouled reserve Scott Martin on a last-second three-point attempt from the right corner with 1.7 seconds remaining. Martin converted the four-point play, giving his team the halftime lead at 29-26.
"It was a good shot because I was all right in the kids' face," Turner said. "Out of all the fouls that they missed, they called that."
The Buckeyes found their way back into the game thanks to both a newfound emphasis on driving the basket and the second-half shooting of Butler. After being held to just two points and one shot in the first half, the team's leading scorer on the season exploded for 23 points in the second half and overtime.
He finished 5 of 6 from beyond the three-point line. That stat line, coupled with Turner getting to the basket, helped spell doom for the Boilermakers.
"They broke us down off the dribble," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. "Give them credit. We put a lot of time into defense and it's just frustrating that you get beat off of people just breaking you down. They just flat took us and there's nothing you can do about that besides just get into them, get into their rhythm and try to contain them."
Although they trailed for the majority of the game, the Buckeyes held a 40-36 lead near the midway point of the second half when senior guard Jamar Butler swished a three pointer. Purdue would answer with a 15-5 run, however, opening up a six-point lead with a little less than nine minutes remaining.
From there, it seemed as if every play in the final 10 minutes was make or break for each squad. OSU did not hold another lead until a pair of free throws by Butler with 49.5 seconds remaining put them ahead by two points.
The Boilermakers entered the game shooting 36.3 percent from beyond the arc but were just 4 for 14 (28.6 percent) in the first half against OSU. Hummel, who had been averaging 16.4 points per game in his last seven games, missed all six of his first-half shots.
The lead changed hands seven times in the first 20 minutes. The high-water mark for OSU came when freshman guard Jon Diebler buried a wide-open trey at the 13:40 mark, giving his team a 10-6 lead. From there, Purdue would answer with an 8-2 run to grab a 14-12 lead.
The start of the second half was delayed for more than 20 minutes by a malfunction with the game clocks on the court. First both were illuminated, then both lost power again. As officials struggled to fix the problem, both were again turned on until first the south and then eventually the north clock shut off. Players kept loose by shooting around at both ends of the court until the game was finally restarted.
Afterward, Matta joked that the delayed start was all part of his plan.
"I said, ‘This is intentional because we practice like this and they don't know how to use it," he said.
Butler led all scorers with 25 points, while Turner and Hunter added 15 each.