INDIANAPOLIS – After defeating the Boilers 88-71, sophomore forward Jared Sullinger said he was the key to the Buckeyes’ offense.
“When we see the double, our guards understand if get it to the open spot they’re going to have a knock-down jump shot, if they don’t double they’re going to let me go to work,” Sullinger said. “I thought that was the biggest key to the game.”
After Purdue tied the game with seven minutes remaining in the first, Ohio State managed to pull ahead, and stay at least two or three points ahead for the rest of the game. Head coach Thad Matta said communication was the most important factor in finally distancing themselves from the Boilers by the end of the game.
“We had to communicate in the second half,” Matta said. “We wanted (Lewis) Jackson to finish over length and finish over size. Purdue, especially since they started playing us has really started shooting effectively.”
Senior forward Lewis Jackson said the Buckeyes were putting extreme pressure on him as the point guard.
“They just kind of stayed back and made me contest,” Jackson said. “The ball just didn’t go my way but you have to take your hat off to them.”
Unable to penetrate to the basket for much of the game, the Boilers put up twelve 3-pointers, shooting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc. With half of their points coming from 3-point territory, the Boilers were only able to shoot 39.7 from the field overall.
Head coach Matt Painter said for the most part, Purdue was in the right position to win the game, until a 17-2 Ohio State run sealed the deal in the last five minutes of the game.
“I thought our guys gave a good fight today,” Painter said. “I thought we were in a position coming down the stretch to win the game.”
Painter said Ohio State opted for unorthodox match ups that required immediate adaptation from Purdue.
“It’s one of those games where it’s kind of free flow for us where were playing the mismatches,” Painter said. “They’d play a center on our three, we’re just trying to play off that mismatch.”
Ultimately, Painter said it was Purdue’s poor rebounding and defensive struggles that gave Ohio State the win.
“More than anything, we can’t give up 88 points and expect to win,” Painter said. “A couple times we were supposed to quick double and our guy just didn’t get there, but we were getting buried so deep that sometimes they’d just go over the double.”
Painter received a technical in the second half of play during the 17-2 run, when he felt Ohio State’s own defensive play was getting out of control.
“One of their bigs was just grabbing our players out in the open on a ball screen defense and I just pointed it out,” Painter said. “I said ‘He has both his hands around him.’ (the official) stares right at it and ignores him so, I can’t repeat what I said to him.”
Junior forward D.J. Byrd led the Boilers with 20 points and Jackson followed with 10.
Looking ahead, Jackson said it will be an entirely different type of play in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s kind of been a funny year,” Jackson said. “This team, with all we went through, we were just trying to make sure we were in a position (to compete). Honestly once you get in that’s all that matters. Just know that when we get in we’re going to do something special no matter where they send us.”