The Purdue Boilermakers (7-7, 1-1) face off against the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-3, 1-1) tonight at Mackey Arena in a matchup between two Big Ten teams looking to avenge road losses.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers played solidly at Michigan State for a little more than a half, but the Spartans eventually pulled away in the second half, winning 84-61.
The Buckeyes come to West Lafayette following a 19-point blowout loss on Saturday to the same Illinois team Purdue beat. The loss comes after a 70-44 win at home against Nebraska in their Big Ten opener.
“They’re coming off a loss, we’re coming off a loss,” said senior guard/forward D.J. Byrd. “It should be a battle here in Mackey.”
The Buckeyes are led by junior forward Deshaun Thomas, who is leading the Big Ten in scoring at 20.2 points per game. Purdue is expected to throw multiple players at Thomas because of his versatility to step out and shoot the three and go inside.
“He’s got three-point range, NBA range,” Byrd said. “He’s got that pull-up. He’s a great offensive rebounder. He averages over two, almost three, offensive rebounds a game ... No catch and shoot threes because we know he can get hot real quick, so we just have to be able to contain him.”
The Buckeyes also have a great floor leader in junior point guard Aaron Craft. Craft is averaging 8.5 points per game along with a team-high 4.9 assists. Craft is an extremely quick defender who can create havoc for opposing guards.
“Being able to contain those two guys and not let anyone else get open looks and get into a rhythm will be key for us,” Byrd said.
Purdue has won three of its last four games after starting the season 4-6. Junior guard Terone Johnson notices the improvement in the last several games.
“I think we’ve gotten a lot better,” Johnson said. “We’ve come together a lot more than we were. And also, we’ve started doing things on offense and defense that coach wants instead of going away from that.”
The Purdue-Ohio State game tips off at 9 p.m. tonight in Mackey Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN.