Jon Coffman believes in the talent level he’s assembled at Purdue Fort Wayne. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann does, too.
But for a second consecutive season, the Buckeyes handled the Mastodons with a level of ease that left the visiting coach paying respects to the Buckeyes.
“We’ve been able to over the years really create space, and we’ve been elite offensively, and two games in a row here (Holtmann) has been able to take the space that we create and really shrink it,” Coffman said. “He has his guys play a 40-minute game defensively.”
>> Photos: Ohio State vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
Last season, it was a 107-61 Ohio State win at Value City Arena that marked the highest-scoring game of the Holtmann era. Friday night, the Buckeyes (5-0) did it with their defense, holding the Mastodons (2-5) to 31.5 percent shooting from the floor in an 85-46 win.
Purdue Fort Wayne, which had been averaging 77.8 points per game, became the first Ohio State opponent held below 50 points since Youngstown State had 40 on Dec. 20, 2016. If not for a late seven-point burst during the final 2:27 against an Ohio State lineup featuring two walk-ons, the Mastodons wouldn’t have even broken 40.
“I was really pleased with our guys’ effort,” Holtmann said. “When you’re playing a team that shoots (that many) threes it’s always a dangerous game, and we were able to take away that strength. Tonight we were able to take them out of some things. “
The Buckeyes again jumped out to an early lead and pulled away before the midpoint of the first half thanks to a 16-0 run that pushed the lead to 25-7 with 9:25 to play when Duane Washington Jr. hit a three-pointer. At that point, Purdue Fort Wayne had missed 14 of its last 15 shots. It would miss its next one, too, but reserve center Cameron Benford’s putback rolled around and through to break a scoring drought that lasted 7:29.
“The same (defensive) approach every single day,” Washington said. “We’re all serious-minded guys right now. In practice, we’ve been locked in on the details and the little things, and that’s one of the reasons we’re playing the way we are.”
At halftime, it was a 42-25 lead that would grow as high as 46 points during the second half despite a few mistakes that earned players quick trips to the bench.
Ohio State has not trailed since an Alonzo Gaffney three-pointer gave the Buckeyes a 12-10 lead against UMass Lowell with 13:04 left in the first half of the second game of the year, a span of 153:04.
The blowout allowed Holtmann to again empty his bench early, inserting senior walk-on Danny Hummer into the game with 7:57 to play, and the Upper Arlington product went on to hit his first career three-pointer.