COLUMBUS, Ohio – Well, Ohio State is not Penn State.
The Nittany Lions struggled to make anything from 3-point range against the Boilermakers on Sunday, especially early, and Purdue took advantage, building a big lead. The 15th-ranked Buckeyes, on the other hand, came out firing from beyond the arc. They made four of their first eight attempts in the game's first eight minutes and also got three free throws off a foul on a 3-point shot. Later, they made three straight 3s in succession. Those flurry, including a pair of 3s from OSU's Justice Sueing, who came into the game just a 23.5% 3-point shooter, gave the Buckeyes an early lead and they are in front at halftime 37-31. Ohio State is 9 of 22 from beyond the arc and Duane Washington Jr. is 4 for 7.
As expected, Purdue has an advantage in the paint. Ohio State really has no answer for either Trevion Williams or Zach Edey in the post and the pair combined for 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Williams was dominant on both ends of the floor, but he picked up his second foul with more than 12 minutes left in the half and only played six minutes. That's a concerning development for Purdue and it's worth keeping an eye on in the second half, especially since Edey picked up his second foul late in the half, as well. Despite that problem, Ohio State was able to get little going inside the arc most of the half. It did not have a 2-point field goal until the 7:45 mark of the half and is shooting 2 of 7 from inside the 3-point line. That's a credit to Purdue's size, but it's also a testament to the Boilers' physicality and pressure on the ball. They have picked up full court on Ohio State's short-handed guard unit all night and coach Matt Painter has continually implored his team to be tough in on-ball defense. The Boilers have responded and made things pretty difficult for the Buckeyes when they try to get to the hoop.
Purdue's offensive performance has been something of a mixed bag. The Boilermakers have done a good job getting the ball inside to Edey and Williams and letting them go to work, but the poor 3-point shooting that showed up against Penn State (and Michigan State before that) has followed the Boilers to Columbus. They are just 2 for 12 from long distance and freshmen Brandon Newman and Jaden Ivey have each taken at least one 3 that was very ill-advised, drawing Painter's ire. Ohio State is an athletic bunch and the Boilers are having a little trouble getting separation for outside shots. Eric Hunter Jr. had a good half, hitting a 3 and going hard to the rim for a couple of baskets, but the Boilermakers haven't gotten a lot else from their guards. Newman, Ivey and Sasha Stefanovic all have to hit some shots in the second half if Purdue is going to pull this one out. Ivey might have gotten that started with a strong drive to the hoop plus a tough finish and a foul late in the half.
In the end, however, this one is pretty simple. The Buckeyes forced Williams out of the game with foul trouble for a long stretch in the first half and got hot from 3-point range. If neither of those factors changes in the second half, it's unlikely Purdue wins this game. Williams has to have a big second half and the Boilermakers have to do a better job of getting out and challenging 3s if Purdue wants to leave Columbus with another top 25 victory.