The showdown in Columbus paired two top 10 teams against each other in a "battle for position" at the top of the conference standings. Ohio State came into the night with a 9 'league-game' win streak, and Purdue entered the contest as winners of 7 straight. The stage was set, the lights were on, and the ball was tipped. Let's jump into the review.
I have an idea! Let's not score...
The Buckeyes struggled to find their shooting touch early. In one of the most frustrating half's of basketball I can ever remember watching, Ohio State missed 10 of their first 14 shot attempts. It was a stretch that lasted thirteen excruciating minutes. During that span, the Buckeyes had 4 more turnovers (8) then they did made field-goals (4 - for those of you who don't like subtraction).
Mister, mister! Get... me... out'a... here!
After that thirteen minute stretch resulted in a 20-9 deficit for the Buckeyes, I remember having the thought, come on guys - just cut six points out of this lead and get into halftime to regroup. Ohio State responded by playing an amazing sixty seconds of basketball that produced a 3-0 run for the good guys. Unfortunately, Purdue decided to step on the gas and pushed the lead back up to 15. The two teams traded baskets in the final minutes and the Boilermakers took a 13 point lead into intermission.
My happy place...
In my second Happy Gilmore reference of the article, I want to share with you a tactic I use to remain positive while things are going badly for my team. It's pretty self explanatory, really; I look for random things during the broadcast that could possibly brighten my mood or make me laugh. It could be something in the crowd, something a player does or even a commercial that I see. This was the instance I used to take my mind off of Ohio State's bad first half; what took me to my happy place:
About fifteen minutes into the game, the camera found former (legendary) Purdue coach Gene Keady, sitting courtside, watching the game. The announcers said a few statements about what an atrocity it is for him not to be in the College Basketball Hall of Fame and yada, yada yada. Anyway, the funny thing to me is that as the years go by, the ex-coach starts looking less and less like a human and more like an assortment of rocks and pebbles. Seriously, "look at him". If that guy from The Shield can't play his role in the next Fantasic Four movie, I nominate Keady to be casted as "The Thing". You won't even have to use any special effects to make him all 'rock-like'. You're welcome Hollywood. I'm only here to help.I just felt like running...The game continued in the second half in very similar fashion to the way the first half ended. For the first five minutes, the Buckeyes and the Boilermakers traded baskets. After an E'Twaun Moore jumper gave Purdue a 43-31 lead, Ohio State made their run. In a span of six minutes, the Buckeyes rallied with a 15-5 spurt. The run featured a lot of Evan Turner, who scored 8 quick points, and then a lot of William Buford, who added 7. For the first time all night, the crowd at Value City Arena was engaged and loud. I was half expecting Gene Keady/The Thing to produce a microphone and threaten the crowd to quite down, and that if they didn't, it would be clobberin' time.The momentum had shifted, and it felt like Ohio State was going to rally from behind to beat Purdue for the second time this season. I have another idea! Let's start shooting a lot of three's!Up until this point, Ohio State was having its best success on offense when they were driving the lane. It usually resulted in a layup, a high percentage mid-range jumper or a trip to the foul line. For some reason, Ohio State went away from this strategy. Their were probably a lot of reasons why this happened. It could have been because Ohio State hadn't led once the entire game, and thought they'd be able to capture the lead for the first time with a big shot. Maybe the team thought they were getting hot from downtown because the 15-5 run they just went on saw a couple three pointers go in. It most likely was due to the fact that Ohio State's best driver, Evan Turner, was exhausted from carrying the team the entire way and just didn't have the legs to do it anymore. Whatever it was, the Buckeyes mindset changed. 5 of their next 6 field goal attempts were three pointers, and they didn't make a single one. Purdue took this Buckeye drought to their advantage and crawled to a 58-50 lead with just under three minutes to play. Too little, too late. And who needs those silly timeouts? In basketball, when a team is trying to come from behind, it typically comes down to the little things. Rallies usually start on the defensive end of the floor. Ohio State made sure they clamped down on D, and they did in a big way as this game came to a close. The Boilermakers didn't make a field goal attempt in the final four minutes, so we can check "good defense" off of the to-do list. An unfortunate break for the Buckeyes came with just over two minutes left, when John Diebler was called for traveling in the worst whistle of the night. Honestly, I don't like to play the blame game on the refs, but I think anyone watching the game could agree that the officiating was pretty awful, for both sides. And in a situation like this, when every possession counts -- it was hard to see Diebler called for traveling when he literally didn't move either of his feet. The only movement coming from Diebler came from his hands when he bobbled the ball momentarily. I guess it can sometimes be hard to establish the difference between hands and feet, but you expect the refs to be able to distinguish between the two. When it came down to the end, Ohio State still had a great chance to tie the game and force overtime. After Purdue missed a layup and the Buckeyes retained possession, there were fifteen seconds on the clock to get a good shot off. Usually in these situations, a coach will take a timeout and draw up a play. On some rarer occasions, the coach will trust his players to execute and catch the defense by surprise. Thad Matta chose to go with the latter strategy, but Purdue was ready. William Bufford drove the lane to try and convert for a quick two points, but Purdue's Chris Kramer came out of nowhere and blocked the shot. John Diebler was able to come up with the loose ball and heaved a last second three point attempt from the top of the key. It would have tied the game, but Diebler's shot clanked off the side of the rim as time expired, giving Purdue a 60-57 win. Mr. BrightsideDespite all my pessimism (you are all now witnesses that I get cranky when Ohio State loses... you've been warned), there was some good that came from this game. Evan Turner was a monster, once again, racking up 29 points while pulling in 7 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Does this guy ever have a bad game? Apparently the only way to stop him is to break his back, but that will only last 4 weeks. What's that in the distance? It looks like a chiseled cartoon character wearing a green skirt.Ohio State won't have long to lick their wounds as they travel to East Lansing for a battle with Michigan State this Sunday. The Buckeyes are still in the thick of things for the regular season conference title, but if they're gonna pull that off, they will have to win this game. The Spartans are extremely tough to beat when they're playing on their home court, losing only once this seasons to Purdue last week. Michigan State is led by reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, Kalen Lucas. What makes the Spartans so tough is their balance on offense. With no true scoring starts (outside of Lucas), Michigan State leans on solid contributions from everyone in the rotation. Teams coached by Tom Izzo are always tough on defense, so don't expect anything easy to come to the Buckeyes this weekend. It should be another entertaining game as two of the Big Ten heavyweights battle for conference supremacy. Until next time; GO BUCKS!