INDIANAPOLIS – Purdue's 63-61 loss to No. 24 Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday was a microcosm of the Boilermakers' frustrating season.
Purdue, which was the No. 12 seed, pushed No. 5 seed Ohio State to the end, but the Boilermakers came up short when Terone Johnson's fadeaway 3-pointer of the buzzer didn't go in.
But for every play that put Purdue on the verge of eliminating the defending tournament champions, the Boilermakers (15-17) did something that kept them from pulling off the upset against the Buckeyes (24-8)
"I thought our effort was pretty good and this has kind of been what we've been able to do at times is we've been able to play hard," coach Matt Painter said. "And when we play really hard, we don't play smart. …We weren't able to consistently this year play hard and play smart at the same time and those are two constants in the game you have to do if you're going to have a good team."
Purdue was out of character in the first half as Ohio State dominated the board, holding a 27-12 rebounding edge. The Boilermakers, who are second in the conference in rebounding margin at plus 4.9, were able to flip that in the second half, outrebounding the Buckeyes 27-16.
But Purdue committed 12 of its 17 turnovers in the second half, which Ohio State turned into 15 points in the final 20 minutes.
And after the Boilermakers cut the Buckeyes' lead to 59-58 with 1:36 to play more mistakes popped up.
Purdue's A.J. Hammons had a defensive rebound stripped from him by Aaron Craft with 1:03 to play, giving Ohio State another possession while clinging to a 1-point lead.
Then after Ohio State's Sam Thompson missed a 3-pointer on the extra possession, Purdue's Errick Peck fouled Lenzelle Smith Jr., who made two free throws for a 61-58 lead with 28 seconds to play.
Hammons cut the Buckeyes' lead to 61-60 with a layup 10 seconds later, and when Craft made one of two free throws with 14 seconds to play, the Boilermakers appeared ready to strike.
But Terone Johnson couldn't handle a handoff from Ronnie Johnson as Smith got his hands between the guards to force a Purdue turnover with 5 seconds to play. Smith was fouled but only made one free throw, and then the Buckeyes sent Ronnie Johnson to the line with the Boilermakers down 63-61 with 2.8 seconds left.
Ronnie Johnson made the first free throw, and after an Ohio State timeout, his intentional miss went out of bounds and Purdue was given possession after a lengthy review.
Terone Johnson got the inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds left but his 3-pointer just over the hand of Smith fell short.
"We've been going through games like that all year," Ronnie Johnson said. "We lost to Michigan in the same way. Games like that are just heartbreakers."
Painter quickly shot down a chance that Purdue would try to play any more games this season.
The Boilermakers would likely only have a chance to play in the CBI, which they did last year, but Painter said that route didn't make sense after this season.
"I thought last year, with a very young team just trying to get some more games, more experience, I don't think that makes sense for us," Painter said.
Purdue, which played after Indiana fell 64-54 to Illinois in the tournament's first game, was the state's last chance to put a team in the NCAA tournament.
This will be the first year the state of Indiana doesn't have a team in the tournament since 2005.
Tale of the halves
Purdue not only had 15 fewer rebounds than Ohio State in the first half, it also let the Buckeyes get 11 offensive rebounds.
But after halftime, the Boilermakers grabbed 11 more rebounds than the Buckeyes, and Purdue had 13 offensive rebounds.
"It was just stop playing weak," Purdue center A.J. Hammons said of changing the rebounding edge. "We know we can rebound, so getting in there and rebound and don't turn it over as much."
While the rebounding turnaround was a positive, the Boilermakers went the other way when it came to turnovers.
Purdue only had five turnovers in the first half but committed 12 in the second half.
Turnovers have hurt the Boilermakers all season as the team committed 12.1 per game
"We got to do a better job of playing fast and under control," Painter said. "Then you got to recruit guys, you know, that can make a better decision.
"Two years ago we were the No. 1 team in the country with the fewest turnovers. So this is a big changing of the guard for us from a personnel standpoint. I don't care who you are, but if you don't give yourself a chance, you're going to end up losing basketball games. We simply didn't
give ourselves a chance this year because we turned the ball over too much."
Purdue came into its first-round game already down two players.
Guard Sterling Carter was lost to a knee injury, and forward Jay Simpson had to stop playing because of a heart condition.
Purdue then lost guard Basil Smotherman five minutes into the second half to a right leg injury, which was diagnosed as a bruised knee and shin.
Yet, even with the injury woes, Purdue pushed Ohio State on Thursday.
"Purdue is a team that you know they're going to play physical every game and they try to beat you up every game, especially Hammons and some of those other guys, having multiple bigs come off the bench," Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross said.
- A.J. Hammons finished with 15 points and nine rebounds as Purdue had three other players finish in double figures in scoring with Ronnie Johnson scoring 12 and Terone Johnson and Kendall Stephens each adding 10
- Ross had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Ohio State, and Aaron Craft had 16 points and three of the Buckeyes' nine steals
- Purdue's two 3-point baskets against Ohio State matched the Boilermakers' season low on 3s
- Purdue lost its final six games, losing its last five by a combined 25 points
- Attendance for the first two sessions of the Big Ten tournament was 18,596, an official sellout