Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow weren’t alive the last time Ohio State lost more than four consecutive games.
Despite their best efforts, that’s no longer the case. In a game marked by runs on both sides and too many turnovers by the Buckeyes, Wesson scored a career-high 22 points and Jallow added 12 but Ohio State dropped a fifth straight game Wednesday night. This one came at the hands of Purdue, which overcame a nine-point deficit in the first half, built a double-digit lead of its own and held off a furious comeback attempt from the Buckeyes for a 79-67 win.
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Ohio State (12-6, 2-5 Big Ten) has its longest losing streak since it dropped 17 straight games from Dec. 28, 1997 to February 21, 1998.
“This is one that we really needed,” Wesson said. “We’ve been on a losing streak. When you lose four straight, you need it, you’re desperate. That’s what you saw.”
The game looked headed for a rout when Kaleb Wesson picked up his fourth foul with 16:45 to play and Purdue leading by 14 points. Instead, a smaller, more versatile lineup featuring Andre Wesson at center, Jallow at power forward, freshman Justin Ahrens at small forward and a rotating cast of two guards mounted a comeback by taking care of the ball and combining for some shockingly hot shooting.
A 16-6 run during which Ohio State hit seven straight field goals pulled the Buckeyes with 54-50 with 12:29 to play and prompted Purdue to call timeout after a three-pointer by Ahrens. The crowd of 12,736 was roaring. Ohio State got within two points at 58-56 and within three points on two more occasions but never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead during the second half.
“It’s certainly been the hardest stretch of my coaching career, but I believe in our guys,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “I’m confident that we’ve got a group that if we can just stay committed to this process of getting better and learning from this, hopefully we’ll see better days.”
The Buckeyes lost by 12 — despite outshooting the Boilermakers 52.3 percent to 47.9 percent from the floor and turning 18 Purdue turnovers into 25 points — in large part because they were whistled for 20 fouls leading to 25 free throws.
Purdue (13-6, 6-2) made more from the line (21) than Ohio State attempted (16).
“It’s clear that we need to foul less, but we’re really struggling getting to the foul line,” said Holtmann, who earned a technical foul for protesting a dubious third foul call on Kaleb Wesson with 1:42 remaining in the first half.
When Carsen Edwards hit four free throws on that possession — two for the foul, two for the technical — it pushed the lead to 15 points. To get there, Purdue put together a 22-1 run during which the Buckeyes attempted one field goal — an airball by Kaleb Wesson on a step-back attempt from the left baseline — and committed six turnovers, while Purdue made 7 of 9 field goals in the span of 3:49.