The last time the Ohio State men’s basketball team played Purdue, E’Twaun Moore scored 38 points and the No. 11 Boilermakers defeated the then-No. 2 ranked Buckeyes, 76-63, Feb. 20, 2011.
But this isn’t the same Purdue team. Moore graduated and this year’s Boilermakers come into Wednesday’s game against OSU unranked with a 15-8 record overall and a 5-5 record in the Big Ten. They lost their last game by 18 points at home to in-state rival Indiana.
Regardless, OSU coach Thad Matta said his team knows Purdue has the potential to pose a threat.
“They’re still young at some spots,” Matta said. “There are times when they play tremendous basketball and I think our guys understand that.”
The Buckeyes are coming off a 58-52 road win against Wisconsin which marked the first time OSU left Wisconsin with a win since 2000. It was also the first time OSU beat a ranked opponent on the road this season.
Matta said he addressed his team Saturday and focused on making sure the team didn’t dwell too much on the win.
“Unfortunately (the Wisconsin game) is over,” Matta said. “Our minds have got to shift now to the next game. We’re nowhere near the end of the season. That wasn’t an end-all win to cap off a great year. You’ve got to go out and do it again.”
The Buckeyes enter Tuesday’s game with a 38-game home win streak. Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger said the student section has made a big difference. Previously the student section was located behind the baskets, but last year the students were moved to midcourt right behind the benches.
“It’s a big help because one, our student section is like right behind the bench of the opposing team,” Sullinger said. “And it’s louder. Before it was just coming on one end. Now it’s everywhere.”
The Buckeyes haven’t just been winning at home though. They’ve been beating teams by large margins. Only three teams have come within 20 points of the Buckeyes in Columbus this year.
“We’ve been fortunate in some of the games getting off to a great start or starting the second half really well,” Matta said. “Whatever it is, I’d like to bottle it up and take it with us on the road.”
But freshman guard Shannon Scott said the venue isn’t important when playing Purdue.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a home or away game for them,” Scott said. “When they come to play us we’re going to get their best game. We just got to come in there and be ready for it.
Matta agreed, citing the strength of the Big Ten conference this year.
“This is another Big Ten battle,” Matta said. “Hopefully they’re going to give us their best shot and we’re going to give them our best shot.
Tip for Tuesday’s game is set for 9 p.m.