Buckeyes Comeback Falls Short at the Horn

16th ranked Ohio State took to the road facing their biggest challenge of their season at #6 Purdue and the Boilermakers used some home cooking and a clutch shot just before the horn by player of the year candidate Jaden Ivey to knock off the Buckeyes 81-78. Despite a foul discrepancy that was an embarrassing 22-12 in favor of the home Boilermakers, Ohio State roared back from 20 down to tie the game late only to see Purdue make an acrobatic shot to escape with a win. Ohio State dropped to 13-5 and 6-3 in conference play, while Purdue improved to 18-3 and 7-3 in the Big Ten.  E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham each had 20 to lead Ohio State and Branham added 7 rebounds. Jaden Ivey led all scorers with 21, while Zach Edey added 20.

Purdue opened the scoring before the Buckeyes went on a 6-0 run. Jamari Wheeler hit a floater mid lane to even the score and E.J. Liddell downed a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes ahead. Joey Brunk took a feed from Liddell and scored at the rim to cap the early run before Purdue got back on the board. Liddell scored left of the rim with a strong move at the bucket, but a backdoor cut and score by the Boilermakers cut the lead to 8-6 at the first media timeout of the game. The Boilermakers grabbed the momentum, scoring the next five to take an 11-8 lead into the under 12 media timeout having scored 7 in a row turning a four point deficit into a three point lead. Malaki Branham put an end to the run, burying a three from the left point to tie it, but Purdue answered with a three of their own. The Boilermakers added to the lead, scoring on an old fashioned three point play.  Gene Brown buried a long two from the right wing to cut the lead to four and a Liddell fade away from the right wing trimmed the deficit to two. The Boilermakers upped the lead to four with a tip dunk but a transition dunk by Branham off an outlet pass by Liddell, sent the teams into the under 8 media timeout with Purdue on top 19-17. Purdue split a pair of turnovers out of the timeout, but Branham came off a screen and stuck a 15 footer on the right elbow to trim the lead to one. Four straight Boilermaker points increased the lead to five but a Kyle Young put back cut the lead briefly to three. A four point play from the Boilers forced Ohio State to call timeout with Purdue suddenly ahead 28-21. Two more Boilermaker free throws increased the lead to 9, but Meechie Johnson found Kyle Young on the baseline for a bucket to end the 6-0 Purdue run. Another Purdue bucket led to the under 4 minute media timeout with Purdue leading Ohio State 32-23. Another Purdue hoop upped the lead to 11, but Justin Ahrens drilled a three from the right wing to cut the lead back to 8. A Purdue score was answered by a Brunk tip in, but a Boiler triple from the top bumped the lead back to 11. Branham cut into the lead with a 16 footer from the right wing and at the half Purdue led Ohio State 39-30. The Buckeyes were hanging around despite hitting just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc while Purdue hit 4 of their 8 from long range. Overall, Ohio State shot just under 41%, while Purdue hit just over 48%. The foul discrepancy was rather one sided, however as Ohio State was whistled for 9 team fouls, while Purdue was hit for just 3. Malaki Branham paced Ohio State with 9 first half points, while the Boilermakers were led by Stefan Stefanovic, who scored a game high 11. 


Purdue opened the second half with an 8-0 run to force Ohio State to call timeout with just over 17 minutes to go and the Boilers threatening to run away with it, now up 47-30. Branham buried a short jumper inside the free throw line to end the run but five more Boiler points ballooned the margin to 20.  Brown hit a runner to end the run and Johnson drilled a triple from the left point to cut the lead to 15. Purdue scored at the rim to increase the lead and at the under 12 minute media timeout, Ohio State trailed Purdue 54-37 and Zed Key due to go to the stripe for a pair. Key split the pair to trim the lead to 16. Following a Boiler turnover, Brown drilled a triple from the right corner and the deficit was 13. Purdue split a pair of freebies to increase the lead and a running layup put Purdue up 16. Russell hit a jumper from the top of the key and a Boiler free throw had Purdue up 15. A running shot from the left banked in from Liddell to cut into the lead but a pair of free throws put Purdue back up 15. Russell banked in a floater mid lane and on the next possession Russell hit a long jumper to cut the deficit to 11, but after a Purdue miss, a missed foul on the Buckeye end caused a scramble to the other end and led to a Purdue 4 on three break and a wide open triple fell to put the Boilers back ahead 14. Russell rolled in a three from the top to answer and Ohio State called a timeout, trailing Purdue 63-52 but creeping closer. Facing a 2-3 Buckeye zone forced a Purdue miss and Liddell hit a jumper from the left baseline to cut it to 9, but three straight Purdue points slowed the Buckeye momentum and increased the lead back to 12. Liddell trimmed the lead to 10, knocking down a pair of free throws, but a Purdue bucket put the Boilers right back ahead by 12. Young drilled a three from the left wing to cut the lead to 9, but another Purdue hoop answered and put the Boilers up 11. A pair of Brown free throws cut back into the lead, but a Purdue score led to the under 4 media timeout with the Buckeyes running out of time and trailing 62-51. Out of the timeout, a Purdue free throw completed an old-fashioned three point play and put Purdue up 12. A Branham free throw got Ohio State to within 11 and a Branham triple from the left corner cut the lead to 8. A Boilermaker three after a blatant missed call on a push to the back.  Branham answered with three free throws to cut the lead back to 8 and a reverse layup by Branham cut the lead to 6. After a Purdue turnover, Liddell hit a short jumper in the paint and the Buckeyes called timeout, now down just 76-72 with just over a minute to play. A pair of free throws from Purdue after an offensive rebound increased the lead to six, but a penetrating Branham fed Liddell in the left corner for three and the Buckeyes took a timeout with 33.5 seconds to go and Ohio State down 78-75. Young came up with a backcourt steal and kicked to Liddell at the top and E.J. buried a three to tie the game. Purdue called a timeout with 20.8 seconds to go and the game now deadlocked at 78. As time was running out, Purdue’s Jaden Ivey falling into his own bench buried a triple just before the horn as the Boilermakers escaped with the win. 

This was always going to be the toughest game of the year for the Buckeyes. Add to it a very poorly, one-sided officiated basketball game, and it was going to be an uphill battle against the bigger and athletic Boilermakers. Despite facing a 22-12 foul discrepancy, the Buckeyes showed incredible toughness and resiliency to come from way behind and nearly send the game to overtime with a chance to win it. This may have been a battle between the Big Ten’s two best teams ultimately and it would be very interesting to see them matchup on a neutral court. Ohio State can use this game as momentum as they head into a very manageable February schedule.  If they can take care of business, they will be right in the mix for a Big Ten title by the end of the month. Time will tell, but the Buckeyes certainly have the depth and talent to be right there. 

Ohio State will lace ‘em up again on Thursday night, hosting Iowa at the Schott for the first of back to back home games.  Tip time is scheduled for 8 PM and airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris

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