Boilermakers bested by the Buckeyes

No. 3 Ohio State was just too much for the Boilermakers to handle, winning 78-69 at Mackey Arena.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- One team is young, talented and learning on the fly. The other starts five upperclassmen and has won three consecutive Big Ten titles.

When Tuesday's clash came down to the wire, experience prevailed over youth. No. 3 Ohio State was just too much for Purdue to handle, winning 78-69 at Mackey Arena.

Whether it was due to poise or focus, Ohio State made the plays Purdue didn't. The Boilermakers struggled around the rim and were far too sloppy with the basketball while the Buckeyes were collected and consistent.

So what should the Boilermakers take from this game?

"The fact that we could've been right there," said senior guard Terone Johnson. "We felt like a couple more plays at the rim, make the baskets, take away those turnovers, get those 50-50 balls and we would've won the game. That's just something to take hard, but we have to get better. We can't take it as a moral victory."

Purdue was led offensively by A.J. Hammons, who posted 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. However, his scoring total came on a 6-of-16 showing from the field, with so many of those misses coming in the paint. His five blocks and four assists were countered by four costly turnovers.

The performance from Hammons serves as a microcosm of the Boilermakers' loss—an impressive effort, but simply too many mistakes.

"I think I played OK," said Hammons. "It was just too many turnovers for me, and then I didn't finish at the basket. 6-fot-16, that's just horrible."

Meanwhile, Ohio State showed why it's a legitimate Final Four threat. Forward LaQuinton Ross led all scorers with 25 points while adding 12 boards. Shannon Scott added 18 and Lenzelle Smith posted 14. However, none of this would've happened without the solid overall play of Aaron Craft, who tallied seven points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals.

When the Buckeyes needed a play on offense, their senior point guard was there to create it.

"That performance Aaron Craft had tonight was maybe one of his best," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. "10 assists, eight boards, seven points, four steals, what do you say to that?"

Added Purdue coach Matt Painter: "He just wants Ohio State to win, and he'll do whatever it takes."

With the Buckeyes leading by two and 11 minutes remaining, the game swung to the visitors. Purdue forward Basil Smotherman was barreled over by a driving LaQuinton Ross and called for a blocking foul, even despite having his feet set for more than a full second. This four-point swing caused frustration through Mackey Arena as the sold-out crowd booed throughout an entire media timeout.

Ohio State would reel off a 17-7 run and surge to a double-digit lead. From this point on, the Buckeyes showed what a veteran team does. They knocked down the big shots while Purdue just couldn't keep up.

In evaluating this critical swing, Painter didn't blame the questionable call. Instead, he gave credit to a talented Ohio State team.

"I thought they made plays at that time, they made some shots," he said.

In the end, one team remained unbeaten while the other showed admirable fight. Purdue just couldn't match the Buckeyes punch for punch.

Now, Painter can only hope his Boilermakers grow from this experience and push closer to the Buckeyes' extraordinary run of success.

"If you lose, you lose," said Painter. "But if you can learn from it and become a better team, it'll be more valuable."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Boiler Sports Report Top Stories