Wins are hard to come by in the Big Ten, especially against the 20th-ranked team in the nation. But it’s one the Ohio State men’s basketball team needed.
The Buckeyes entered Thursday night without a signature win on their resume. After 40 minutes, they remained winless against the top-25 this season.
OSU lost to the Purdue Boilermakers 76-75 in its Big Ten home opener, dropping to 0-2 in the conference and 10-5 overall. Junior forward Vincent Edward and sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan led Purdue (13-3, 2-1) with 16 points each. Swanigan added 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double in his sophomore campaign. Junior forward Jae’Sean Tate led OSU with 17 points. Senior forward Marc Loving added 14.
OSU coach Thad Matta couldn’t explain why his team didn’t come out on top.
“I don’t know. I thought we did a good job executing,” Matta said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of what we wanted to do. I thought our bench gave us great boost tonight.”
Purdue led by as much as 10 in the second half and led by seven with 5:27 remaining. OSU sophomore guard C.J. Jackson hit a triple to cut the deficit to four for the Buckeyes’ only basket for almost nine minutes of the second half. Purdue went on a shooting drought that last just under four minutes before freshman guard Carsen Edwards finished a tip-in to increase Purdue’s lead to 72-67.
Purdue coach Matt Painter said that his team was fortunate the play wasn’t reviewable because Edwards did not get rid of the ball before the shot clock expired.
Off of a pair of free throws from sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle and a layup by Loving with 1:44 remaining, Purdue junior guard P.J. Thompson buried the Boilers’ only 3-pointer of the second half to put Purdue back up by four, 75-71, after shooting 7 of 14 in the first half.
After Tate converted a layup, moving the Buckeyes within two, the Buckeyes contested Swanigan’s attempt under the basket and Lyle came away with the rebound.
Redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson rebounded a miss from Loving on the next possession and tied the game with a chance to take the lead on a 3-point play with 15.1 seconds left. Thompson missed the free throw and fouled Swanigan on the other end with 5.3 seconds on the clock.
Swanigan made one-of-two attempts and Lyle missed a 3 at the buzzer, ending OSU’s upset bid one point short.
Loving and Tate were very emotional in the postgame press conference, each feeling like the game slipped away from them.
“When you feel like you worked as hard as you possibly can and left it all out on the floor, guys are going to be emotional ‘cause, I mean, it’s just the love of the game,” Loving said. “You want to win.”
Looking ahead, the Buckeyes hit a stretch now where their 0-2 start in conference could surmount to possibly 0-5 with games at Minnesota, at Wisconsin and home against Michigan State. For a team that said in the offseason that it didn’t want the same feeling of missing out on another NCAA tournament, with almost half the season finished, OSU still remains without a quality win and lost to low mid-major Florida Atlantic at home on Dec. 6.
Now without the services of junior forward Keita Bates-Diop for the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in his shin, Tate said that there isn’t a concern around the team, but they know the clock is ticking.
From all the years I’ve been here, this team, I really feel like we want it,” he said. “We just have to figure out a way to bring that emotion and energy every night. Keep working hard because eventually we are going to hit our stride.”
OSU travels to Minneapolis for a battle with the Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-2, 1-1) in Williams Arena on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.