If you are any sort of fan of college basketball, that was the game for you. I stared in disbelief in the first half when Purdue's Robbie Hummel could not miss, and I tried not to blink as Ohio State's Evan Turner led his team on a furious comeback that just might have saved his team's season.
What did we learn about the Buckeyes in this one? Plenty. First is that there is no quit in this team right now – and if there was a time to give up, this was it. Having lost three of four and trailing by 13 points on the road to the Boilermakers with about seven minutes remaining with a passionate crowd smelling blood sounds like a decent time to throw in the towel.
But a three-pointer from Jeremie Simmons of all people got things rolling, and the comeback of the season was on. Throughout it all, I kept thinking to myself that the Buckeyes were just one break away from being back in the game. Time after time, however, they simply threw the ball away or missed a point-blank shot.
Then they didn't, and instead started making plays. The Boilermakers are a very, very good basketball team that is going to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this year.
A win like this shows that when things are clicking for OSU – or when Turner is at the top of his game – that the Buckeyes have the potential of beating anyone they face.
The rest of this season just got a little more interesting.
I think … that OSU's Thad Matta held his own from a coaching standpoint against Purdue's Matt Painter.
I had no idea how the Buckeyes would try to stop JaJuan Johnson, and Matta figured out the answer: a 1-3-1 zone that took him out of the game. Purdue entered the game shooting 31.4 percent from deep, and OSU's coach figured he would take his chances with the Boilermakers launching from deep.
Then Hummel went nuts and hit on 8 of 10 in the first half, giving Matta no option but to switch out of the zone. The rest of Hummel's teammates combined to go 2 for 10.
Once the Buckeyes went to their man defense, Purdue did not hit a three-pointer the rest of the way, missing all five attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Johnson was held to two points – his lowest scoring output of the season.
With OSU gaining confidence down the stretch, Matta put in a token press designed to try and keep the Boilermakers out of their element. It did just that, forcing a few key turnovers in the final minutes that aided the comeback effort.
Matta has been criticized for his in-game coaching ability – and was getting plenty of it on our premium message board through halftime – but this was a solid performance from the head man.
It had to be nice for him to see his players come through for him as well.
Of course, it helps when you can just tell a player like Turner to put the team on his back and score 14 consecutive points to clinch the victory.
I think … that I'll state the obvious and proclaim Turner to have fully recovered from the injury.
In a cramped hallway in the bowels of Mackey Arena, Turner told me that he has never been injured before while playing the game of basketball. The incident clearly left an impression on him, and why wouldn't it?
But at one point, Turner threw down a two-handed dunk with authority – the first time I have seen him do so since he was injured trying that same move against Eastern Michigan back in December.
There was a mental aspect to his recovery, and playing a team he was clearly dying to beat on its home court helped give him the necessary drive to do so.
All of that tells me that the Turner we saw before the injury is the one we are going to see from here on out. That, and the 40 minutes, 32 points and nine rebounds.