I saw a few things that make me feel this way. First, junior guard Evan Turner was again outstanding as he continued to find his way to the basket time after time. Everyone in the arena knew he was going to drive, and he still would. At one point, he had 11 of OSU's first 21 shots from the field.
But after getting the Buckeyes to within two points, suddenly Turner couldn't get in the paint. As a team, OSU started settling for jumpers and went one for its next seven. Several of them were of the quick-shot variety. The final shot in that stretch was a jumper by Turner that barely grazed the front of the iron.
Look at the Buckeyes during huddles. You see guys with hands on their knees trying to take all the air out of the gym. I have to give credit to Dallas Lauderdale simply for making it through such a high-intensity game for 31 minutes. That's a lot of court time for a big fella.
In the final moments, Turner was at the line shooting two free throws. He hit the first and missed the second, but OSU had just Jon Diebler there to fight for the rebound. Lauderdale was back in the paint at the other end of the court, hands on his knees. It was obvious that he needed the head start to get down there and that head coach Thad Matta felt that was more important than having his biggest active player potentially banging for a rebound.
In addition, Purdue's JaJuan Johnson was able to get as many good looks as he did because the ball pressure that allowed OSU to mount its second-half comeback the last time these two teams played simply was not there. The Boilermakers were able to swing the ball around the perimeter, and head coach Matt Painter said as such afterward.
Matta said his players were simply keying on Purdue's three key players in Johnson, Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore. I'm sure they keyed on them the last time too, but they were still able to get ball pressure.
I can see why these guys can go as long as they do when they are playing teams against whom they have a clear talent advantage. Purdue is not a team like that, and all the shortened practices in the world are not enough to get past that.
This could be the key to making a tournament run. I've believed that the Buckeyes could indefinitely sustain the type of effort we've seen so far, but tonight made me question that belief.
I think … that although I have been critical of Diebler's all-around play lately, he had one of his best all-around games of the season in this one.
He finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three turnovers but magically was not credited with a steal. I had him down for at least two, and he was active defensively taking charges.
Diebler's offensive production was critical in the first half as one of two Buckeyes to have more than one basket to that point. Without his seven first-half points, I'm not sure OSU would have been able to rally enough to make it a game.
After the game, he said his wrist was fine but he had a pretty extensive tape job on his shooting wrist. Nice effort for a guy in his condition with this much on the line.
I think … that offensively, another key in this one was the inability to get much of anything out of David Lighty. The junior has been a solid player all season, but it is tough to overcome a season-low four points from Lighty when Buford is struggling to knock down open shots.
As always, though, I liked his defensive intensity. The guy knows how to cut off a player driving baseline.