COLUMBUS — The rumors of Ohio State’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
The Buckeyes, who are hoping for a third straight NCAA Tournament berth, helped their cause Tuesday night with an 80-77 overtime win over No. 15 Purdue. It was easily Ohio State’s biggest win of the year, as the only other ranked team the Buckeyes beat was No. 21 Syracuse — which has since dropped out of the Top 25 — in the third game of the season.
“The word we used was resiliency,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “By no stretch of the imagination did we play perfect tonight. I’m really proud of the way the guys hung in there.”
The biggest example of a resilient performance came from senior guard Jamar Butler, who bounced back from a two-point first half to score 23 points in the second half and overtime. Butler went 5-for-5 from behind the
3-point line after halftime, an impressive feat since his long-range shot had been noticeably lacking during Ohio State’s four-game skid coming into Tuesday night.
“I have to give the credit to (OSU assistant coach) Archie Miller,” Butler said. “He pulled me aside after practice and made me shoot
3-pointers from seven different spots on the floor. I had to make nine of 10 before I was allowed to leave the floor.
“He told me, ‘If you make them here, you’ll make them in the game,’ and he was right.”
The Buckeyes had to shake off some strange happenings to pull out the victory.
The game began with Ohio State freshman point guard Evan Turner throwing the ball toward nobody and out of bounds — Matta later said it was a pass to (ESPN broadcaster) Mr. (Brent) Musberger — and the Boilermakers converted a four-point play before the first-half buzzer as Turner fouled Martin Scott as he sank a 3-pointer.
“With all the fouls they were missing that half, for them to call that … I was like, ‘Wow,’” Turner said.
Then halftime was extended nearly 15 minutes due to malfunctions in both shot clocks.
“I think the extended half gave (Butler) a little more blow,” Matta said. “I told ESPN after the game that I did that intentionally.”
The rest also did some good for Turner and senior forward Othello Hunter — both of whom finished with 15 points — and it was Turner, and not the 6-foot-8 Hunter, who led the Buckeyes with eight rebounds.
“Turner really made us change some things that we didn’t want to do,” Purdue coach Billy Painter said. “We just didn’t make the stops we needed to, and Butler and Turner hurt us.”
Ohio State (18-12, 9-8 Big Ten) has been given the late-season title of “bubble team” by the national media, so Tuesday’s upset victory is a big boost for its NCAA Tournament hopes.
“We’ve tried to ignore all that,” Butler said. “Of course a win like this can only help. We’re going to have to win on Sunday (in OSU’s season finale vs. No. 17 Michigan State), win a couple in the Big Ten Tournament or maybe win it, and hopefully we’ll get in.”
With Tuesday night’s win, the Buckeye seniors became the winningest all-time class with 99 victories, passing the 1963 class of Richard Reasbeck and Douglas McDonald.
l Ohio State defeated Purdue for the third straight time when the Boilermakers were ranked in the Top 25. The win was the Buckeyes’ ninth in the last 10 meetings with Purdue, and they are 5-0 at Value City Arena against the Boilermakers.
l The game was OSU’s eighth sellout of the season.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7135
Ohio State 80, Purdue 77
PURDUE (23-7): Hummel 4-10 2-3 12, Calasan 2-5 2-4 7, Kramer 3-9 0-0 6, Grant 1-3 2-2 5, Moore 5-16 3-4 16, Crump 1-3 2-4 4, Martin 5-10 2-3 14, Green 1-1 3-4 6, Johnson 2-2 3-3 7. Totals 24-59 19-27 77.
OHIO STATE (18-12): Lighty 4-9 0-0 9, Hunter 5-7 5-8 15, Koufos 3-9 1-2 7, Butler 6-8 8-8 25, Turner 5-11 5-8 15, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Diebler 1-3 3-4 6, Terwilliger 1-4 1-2 3, Lauderdale 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 23-32 80.
Halftime—Purdue 29-26. End Of Regulation—Tied 64. 3-Point Goals—Purdue 10-24 (Moore 3-7, Martin 2-3, Hummel 2-5, Green 1-1, Calasan 1-2, Grant 1-2, Kramer 0-4), Ohio St. 7-16 (Butler 5-6, Lighty 1-3, Diebler 1-3, Turner 0-2, Terwilliger 0-2). Fouled Out—Grant, Green. Rebounds—Purdue 39 (Hummel 10), Ohio St. 33 (Turner 8). Assists—Purdue 12 (Moore 5), Ohio St. 10 (Lighty 4). Total Fouls—Purdue 25, Ohio St. 21. A—19,049.