Cleaning The Glass: Purdue Tourney Edition

Ohio State had an impressive run through the Big Ten tournament, but it fell short in a title game loss to Purdue. BuckeyeSports.com men's basketball beat writer Adam Jardy offers his take on the loss and the Buckeyes going into the NCAA Tournament.

INDIANAPOLIS – I think … that although Ohio State is obviously playing its best basketball of the season, I just don't think I can pick them to make the Sweet 16. Being tabbed as a No. 8 seed for the right to play top-seeded Louisville in the second round doesn't help the picture, but I haven't had the Buckeyes playing more than two NCAA Tournament games all season and I see no reason to change that prediction.

When it plays its absolute best, I think OSU can beat any team in the country. But as Purdue showed, expecting the Buckeyes to play at an elite level for more than one game at a time is a tough bet.

In the first half against the Boilermakers, the Buckeyes looked like they might actually win the Big Ten tournament. Shots were not falling for Purdue, and the Buckeyes were getting good looks despite intense pressure from the Purdue defense. In the second half, things changed as the ball started bouncing Purdue's way.

When the Boilermakers went on a run, the Buckeyes were back up to their old tricks: bad ball protection and an alarming inability to locate hot shooters. During the 11-1 run that put the Boilermakers ahead for good with a seven-point cushion, nine of those points came courtesy of the same hot-shooting guard.

I'm sorry, but in your 32nd game of the year, you need to find him and keep him from getting the ball. Instead, he helped bury the Buckeyes in a hole so deep that even Evan Turner himself couldn't drag them out of it.

This could be a scary team if all the pieces click together on a consistent basis. The problem is that they just don't.

I think … that an OSU win against the Boilermakers might have been enough to get me to change my mind on this topic, however.

I think … that B.J. Mullens took another step backward against Purdue and it might have been a big one.

Watching his body language when he would come out of the game and even while on the court seemed to indicate that he was not happy with how the game was going and that he felt limited by a number of factors: his role in the offense, his overall play, the officiating and the course of the game. Afterward, head coach Thad Matta said Mullens was slow to react to things and didn't have a good flow about him.

He finished with three points, two rebounds, one block, one steal and one turnover in 12 minutes of play.

At some point, you need to start playing like the future NBA lottery pick that you are. That time is now, and someone needs to tell Mullens this. No more being unsure of yourself on the court: you have played more than 30 Division I games. When a rebound is anywhere near you, you grab it. When you're whistled for a foul, deal with it and move on.

The Buckeyes absolutely need big performances from him to advance beyond the second round of the tournament, and I'm not sure if he can deliver them.

I think … that it's not all doom and gloom after the loss, and there is plenty to like about this team if you are Matta.

The Buckeyes hustled at both ends of the court for nearly all of three games and made things happen. Luck will ultimately play a part in any game, but OSU did a pretty decent job of making its own luck throughout the tournament and it showed on the scoreboard.

In addition, a number of players seemed to finally grasp their roles and fulfill them during the tournament. P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons come to mind.

This is a team that believes in itself and will go to great lengths to try and achieve a goal placed in front of them. Now let's see how far they can go with that newfound sense of confidence.

I think … as a final thought, Dallas Lauderdale had himself a heck of a tournament. He was as active as I've ever seen him on the glass in the Purdue game, and his six rebounds tied his conference-high.

This guy is finally showing the ability he flashed glimpses of early in the season, and I'm excited to see what he can do in another year or so.


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