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Buckeyes battle Boilermakers in Big Ten lid lifter
West Lafayette, IN (SportsNetwork.com) – The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes
recently completed a perfect non-conference slate, and they will open Big Ten
Conference play on Tuesday afternoon against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey
Ohio State is 13-0 and is preparing to kick off its 102nd season of Big Ten
competition in this, only its second true road game of the campaign. The
Buckeyes haven’t played what anyone would consider a daunting schedule to this
point, with its best wins coming against Marquette, Maryland and Notre Dame.
The team’s most recent outing took place last Friday, with the visiting ULM
Warhawks proving to be no match in what turned out to be a 71-31 final.
While not to the extent as its counterpart today, Purdue has enjoyed its own
level of success this season, staking claim to a 10-3 record, which includes
an 8-0 mark in front of the hometown faithful. The Boilermakers’ three losses
have come against Oklahoma State and Washington State on back-to-back days as
part of the Old Spice Classic in late November, and to Butler on Dec. 14. They
too haven’t beaten many teams of note, with the possible exceptions of Boston
College and West Virginia.
Purdue owns an 83-79 lead in the all-time series with Ohio State, but the
Buckeyes have won the last three meetings, and 13 of the last 18 overall.
Strong defense has been Ohio State’s calling card this season, as the team
ranks among the national leaders in points allowed at just 54.0 per game.
Opponents have been unable to find their shooting stroke, hitting a mere 36.4
percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a dismal 24.3 percent
showing from 3-point range. Those same foes are being outrebounded (-3-3) and
goaded into more turnovers (15.5 per game) than the Buckeyes themselves commit
(10.9 tpg). Offensively, coach Thad Matta’s club has certainly done enough to
help it maintain a significant scoring margin (+20.8), as Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
and LaQuinton Ross lead the way with 13.4 and 12.9 ppg, respectively. Amir
Williams adds 9.9 ppg while spearheading the team’s effort on the glass with
7.2 rpg, and Aaron Craft chips in 9.5 ppg as a complement to his role as OSU’s
primary playmaker (4.6 apg).
Smith, Jr. scored 17 points and grabbed seven boards, while Ross logged a
double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes to
their easy win over ULM last time out. Amedeo Della Valle tacked on 14 points
off the bench, but it was Ohio State’s stifling defensive effort that won the
game, as the Warhawks shot just 18.5 percent from the floor (10-of-54), which
included a poor 3-of-18 showing from downtown, while also committing 17
Boasting six players who average at least 6.4 ppg, including two in double
figures, Purdue can score with Ohio State, but where the teams differ is at
the other end of the court as the Boilermakers permit an average of 70.0 ppg.
Still, their opponents are shooting only 40.5 percent from the field, while
being guilty of 14 turnovers per outing. Terone and Ronnie Johnson are netting
14.0 and 10.8 ppg, respectively, and they have combined for 76 of the team’s
178 assists on the season. Bryson Scott is close to joining the double-digit
scorers’ club, as his 9.8 ppg come mostly on the back of his solid showing at
the free-throw line (44-of-61, .721).
Terone Johnson hit for 20 points, while Ronnie added 14 and Basil Smotherman
tallied 11, all of which were needed in Purdue’s 73-70 win at West Virginia on
Dec. 22. The Boilermakers played exceptional defense in the win, limiting the
Mountaineers to 36.9 percent field goal efficiency, which included a low 16.7
percent (3-of-18) effort from 3-point land. Coach Matt Painter’s squad won the
rebounding battle, 45-38, while tallying 25 bench points compared to only 4