Buckeyes Drop Their 5th Straight

Ohio State’s struggles in 2019 continue as the Buckeyes dropped their 5th straight game, this time to Purdue by a final score of 79-67 to fall to 12-6 and 2-5 in the Big Ten.  The Buckeyes, playing without Kyle Young, who is out for the near future with a stress fracture in his leg, got increased production from Andre Wesson and off the bench from Musa Jallow and Justin Ahrens, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a long cold stretch in the first half sending Ohio State to 0-5 in the new year.  Andre Wesson led Ohio State with a career high 22 and Musa Jallow added 12 with 5 steals and Luther Muhammad chipped in 10.  Both teams were plagued by turnovers throughout this game as Ohio State turned it over 19 times and Purdue turned it over 18 times but the Boilers made the timely shots when Ohio State was making a big run at home sending Purdue to their 4th straight victory.

The Buckeyes got out to a quick start as Purdue struggled from the floor, missing their first 8 shots as Ohio State led 6-0.  Purdue finally broke the drought, hitting a three from the left corner to cut the lead in half at the 15:35 mark.  Despite the early the lead, the Buckeyes were hit by the turnover bug early, turning it over 3 times in the first 5 minutes to keep Purdue close.  Turnovers on three straight possessions by the Boilermakers out of the under 16 media timeout, two off steals by Musa Jallow, and the Buckeyes scored the next 4 to go up 10-3.  Carsen Edwards ended the mini run with a long triple from the left wing as the shot clock was running low cutting the Buckeye advantage to 4.  The Buckeyes would answer increasing the lead to 17-8 with 11 minutes remaining and Ohio State outscoring Purdue 9-0 off turnovers.  A quick 8-0 run by Purdue fueled by 4 Buckeye turnovers trimmed the lead to a point forcing Chris Holtmann to call a timeout with 9:46 remaining in the first half. The Boilermakers took their first lead of the game with 7:25 remaining as Ohio State continued to struggle in the half court with offensive efficiency, turning it over 9 times as opposed to just 3 assists.  The Boilermakers took advantage, increasing their run to 22-1 and lead by 12 with 5 minutes remaining.  The Buckeyes trimmed the lead back to 9 before Purdue took control again.  With the Boilers leading by 11, a questionable sequence occurred late in the half as Kaleb Wesson went up for a short jumper on the offensive end and was bumped with no call and on the other end Wesson was whistled for a shaky foul call, his third, that caused Chris Holtmann to be called for a technical foul.  Carson Edwards buried all 4 free throws to increase Purdue’s lead to 15.  The Buckeyes finished the half strong with a steal and dunk from Jallow and another steal on Purdue’s final possession.  Off the turnover and with time running out Andre Wesson banked in a long three from just beyond the half court line that sent the teams to the locker room and Ohio State enjoying a little momentum but still down 10, 39-29.  Andre Wesson and C.J. Jackson led the Buckeyes with 7 each while Carson Edwards led all scorers with 13.  The Buckeyes were very active on the defensive end, forcing 11 Boiler turnovers, but that number was offset by 13 turnovers of their own along with just 3 assists.

The momentum was short lived as Purdue opened the second half increasing their lead to 14 and Kaleb Wesson picking up his 4th foul on the offensive end, sending him to the bench with 16:45 left in the game.  An Andre Wesson 3 cut the lead to 11, but Carson Edwards answered with a three of his own to increase the lead back to 14.  Justin Ahrens answered right back, drilling a three from the top of the key to hang in the ballgame.  The Buckeyes began to come alive coming out of the under 16 timeout and after a 10-1 run, capped by another Ahrens triple, Purdue coach Matt Painter called timeout as the Buckeyes had trimmed the lead to just 4, trailing 54-50 with 12:29 to play.  After the Boilers increased the lead back to 8, back to back threes from Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow cut the Purdue lead to just 2 with 10 minutes to go.  Carsen Edwards answered right back with a dagger three in traffic to build the lead back to 5 in favor of Purdue.  Coach Holtmann would get Kaleb Wesson off the bench with 5 minutes remaining, but yet another tough call and very questionable on at that as Kaleb Wesson picked up his 5th foul on a loose ball and had to be restrained by his teammates after fouling out with 4:45 remaining.  The momentum shifted back into Purdue’s favor following the Wesson foul, building the lead back to 9 with 4 minutes remaining.  A pair of free throws and a runner from Luther Muhammad cut the lead to 5 with 2 minutes to go, but Purdue buried two free throws to lead again by 7 and Ohio State would get no closer.

The Buckeyes can take many positives from this game despite the loss.  They played the majority of the game without their best player, Kaleb Wesson and the entire game without their top glue guy, Kyle Young yet showed plenty of fight, trimming a 15 point lead to 2 and put themselves in a position to win the game, but it wasn’t meant to be on this night.  Musa Jallow and Justin Ahrens stepped up big off the bench and showed they can provide critical minutes as the team moves forward, but they must find a way to keep Kaleb on the floor.  Playing without any post presence severely hampers anything the Buckeyes want to do on the offensive end, opens up the middle on the defensive end, and allows opponents to get open looks on the perimeter.  They went to zone late in the game and that ultimately may be the answer for this team in the short term to protect their big fella and keep him on the floor for longer stretches.  The season will continue and the Buckeyes and Coach Holtmann will keep working and try to figure out the best way to end this slide and get back into the win column.  There is certainly a bright future for this program, and they will learn from this adversity and most definitely get better as the season continues to progress.

The Buckeyes will try to end the slide on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska, hitting the road to take on the Cornhuskers with tip scheduled for high noon to be aired on FS1.

–  Jason Harris

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