Looking for five players that could help Ohio State find a fast start – or simply shoot for a higher percentage – Thad Matta thought about potentially mixing up his starting lineup after the Buckeyes’ 74-55 loss at Illinois on Saturday.
But Matta didn’t have to make a change to get what he was looking for in No. 15 Ohio State’s 74-64 win over Purdue in Mackey Arena on Tuesday night. The win was Matta’s 100th victory in the Big Ten.
In the Buckeyes’ first game since their most lopsided loss in three years, the team played with what appeared to be more consistent intensity, built a double-digit lead in the first half and shot 56.4 percent to hold onto the win.
Deshaun Thomas paced Ohio State (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) with 22 points and Aaron Craft scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half after being bound to the bench for all but 4:19 of the first half because of early foul trouble.
Senior center Evan Ravenel scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench and Sam Thompson added eight points, including a jumper from the wing with 1:42 remaining in the game to extend the Buckeyes’ lead to eight to essentially end any chance of a Boilermakers’ win.
Terone Johnson led Purdue (7-8, 1-2) with 18 points and big man A.J. Hammons added 13, but the Boilermakers have now lost two-straight since knocking off Illinois 68-61 in their Big Ten opener last week.
As the Buckeyes waited to see who would assist Thomas in the scoring department, the junior forward did what he’s best at – lifting the Buckeyes.
With Craft on the bench with his second foul, Purdue’s D.J. Byrd hit a three to give the Boilermakers a 9-7 lead. Thomas immediately answered with a trey of his own, sparking a 13-2 Ohio State run that helped the Buckeyes to a 20-11 lead.
A few minutes later in the first half, Thomas sparked another Buckeye run when he knocked down a jumper and a three before OSU scored nine-straight to take a 31-17 lead. Purdue eventually got back within eight at 35-27, but OSU took a 39-29 lead into the locker room for halftime.
Ohio State added three points to its 10-point halftime lead in the first five minutes of the second half, but Purdue repeatedly kept the Buckeyes within striking range by putting together small spurts.
But when the Boilermakers got within striking distance – like they did when they narrowed the Buckeyes’ lead to 70-64 with 2:55 remaining in the game – OSU repeatedly had an answer. This time it was Thompson, who knocked down his biggest shot of the game on OSU’s ensuing possession.
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