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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 08, 2018 12:30 am

Purdue vs. Ohio State: Final observations

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – There's so much to say after tonight, it's actually difficult to know where to start. First, Purdue should not have lost this game. The Boilers were the better team almost all night and on two separate occasions had leads that seemed on the brink of being insurmountable.

The moment in the second half when Carsen Edwards looked unstoppable and Purdue took a 14-point advantage was the moment the game turned. The Boilermakers really had a chance to put it away at that point, but had a few bad possessions in a row out of an Ohio State timeout. The Buckeyes went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead down to five and the game was tight the rest of the way.

The most striking difference late in the game was the relative ineffectiveness of Isaac Haas. Haas was a bulldozer in the first half, scoring 16 points and appearing unstoppable. He had just two in the second half and was almost invisible on offense during Ohio State's comeback. Purdue is usually comeback-proof or close to it, because even if its shots aren't falling from the outside, it can count on Haas scoring inside. That wasn't the case in the second half tonight.

It's hard not to feel for Carsen Edwards, who had the game of his life, scoring 28 and electrifying the crowd again and again, but did not come away with the victory. He was obviously upset in the press conference after the game, even more so than Haas and Vincent Edwards, both of whom looked like kids who'd had all their Halloween candy taken away.

My take here is that the Purdue's winning streak had to end some time. The Boilers were never going to run through March with a 30-odd-game win streak. I expected it to happen Saturday against Michigan State, but now that game takes on even more significance than it already had. Neither team plays Ohio State again, so the loser is essentially out of the Big Ten title chase.

The Boilermakers can still get a No. 1 seed despite this loss, but it will need a solid showing (and probably a win) against Michigan State to do so. In that sense, the Boilers have no time to lament the end of the streak. This was the biggest game of the season. So is Saturday.

dsinn@jg.net