Immature Boilermakers fall flat

Purdue showed its immaturity while Ohio State pulled away to a win.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - As the immature team struggled, the veteran, mature one pulled away Saturday in Value City Arena.

It has been that way much too often this season for Purdue, which pulled within 48-45 of Ohio State with a Terone Johnson 3-pointer with 9:23 remaining, only to be outscored 19-4 the rest of the way in the Buckeyes' 67-49 victory.

A Ronnie Johnson jumper and a Jay Simpson dunk was all the offense the Boilermakers (14-10, 4-7 in the Big Ten) could manage in a finish that emphasized how immature and easily rattled this Purdue team can be. But the Buckeyes have turned the ship back in the right direction, finishing a two-game season sweep of Purdue, getting 17 points from forward LaQuinton Ross and 16 points and five assists from guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who sank four of Ohio State's eight 3-pointers.

For the Boilermakers, Value City Arena continues to be a house of horrors. Purdue now is 1-12 in this building, winning only in 2010 when E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant were that team's foundation.

Despite making only 10 of 30 field goal attempts and 2 of 5 free throws, the Boilermakers were within 31-25 at halftime, and still were in position to pull an upset with 9:23 to play when the wheels fell off, turning the ball over five times in one stretch of seven possessions.

Coach Matt Painter had no trouble pinpointing what produced the team's fourth loss in five games. "We just imploded at that time. With about (nine) minutes to go, we had it to one possession, and we had a call go against us, and we self-destructed and turned the ball over. You just can't do that against a team like Ohio State."

The Buckeyes made Hammons a non-factor during the final 18 minutes. The big man finished with 11 points and seven rebounds but also had five of Purdue's 15 turnovers.

"He did a poor job of recognizing what was going on," Painter said. "They didn't do anything different than anybody else does. It's not football. There's only five guys out there and only so many people you can run at him.

"He knows where the guys are to pass. He just got stripped. Those strips were all clean. They were simply taking the ball from us. You draw two or three people, then you just make that next pass. It is something we work on with him every day. He will get to where he is pretty good at it, and then he reverts back and struggles like he did today."

Hammons realized his second-half performance left lots to be desired.

"They were crowding the post and playing off people," Hammons said of what went wrong during the final 18 minutes. "We have to get some better ball movement. I have to pass and keep moving whenever I get the ball.

"The finish was really just on us. Have to play with more focus and just make better decisions. We have to take care of the ball."

Ohio State's Smith said the Buckeyes' ability to shut down Hammons turned the tide in a big way.

"Our defense picks us up and gives us great energy," Smith, Jr. said. "it is an electric feeling in the building when our crowd is into it. That is the type of basketball we like to play."

Purdue got a team-leading 12 points from freshman guard Kendall Stephens in its worst offensive output of the season, replacing the 54 points it scored in a 69-54 loss to Washington State in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.

Stephens said he contributed to Purdue's horrible offensive finish at Ohio State.

"I took some bad shots," Stephens said. "We also turned the ball over a lot. We made bad decisions, and that really started with me. I have to get better. I kind of got selfish, and that is hurting the team. I think that's really what hurt us beginning at about the nine-minute mark.

"Those shots are immaturity. I have to focus and be tougher. It's not hard. It's just about being smarter and knowing what is going on."

During the final nine minutes Saturday, Purdue was not smart and did not look like it knew what was going on. That immaturity helped produce the Boilermakers' seventh Big Ten defeat in 11 games and now has a week to prepare for a date with rival Indiana on Feb. 15 in Mackey Arena.

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