There are multiple versions of the Purdue team that Ohio State will host today.
At one end of the spectrum are the Boilermakers who staggered their way to scoring 37 points in an early January loss at Illinois. Swing the pendulum the other way, and you have a Purdue team that put up 104 at home against Iowa not even two weeks ago.
Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann, whose team has experienced similar swings throughout the season, said he’s sure which Purdue version will present itself at Value City Arena.
“They obviously, like all of us, have had some ups and downs to their season, but they’re clearly a top-30 program,” Holtmann said Friday. “We’re going to see their very best. You always see that from a really well-coached team after a home loss.”
The Boilermakers had won three straight before Penn State hit 14 three-pointers in its 88-76 win at Mackey Arena on Tuesday night. Despite an overall record of 14-11 that includes a loss at Nebraska, constituting one of two conference wins for the lowly Cornhuskers this season, Purdue is ranked No. 29 in the NCAA’s NET rankings and No. 19 in the nation according to KenPom.com.
So when he started preparing for the teams’ only meeting this season, Holtmann said he focused how the Boilermakers have played recently. That includes a commanding win at Indiana last Saturday, a rivalry game that saw the Boilermakers lead by as many as 16 points during the second half.
“When you look at their numbers, there’s a reason why the metrics really like this Purdue team,” Holtmann said. “They do a lot of things well. They’re a week and a half removed from really having a couple blowout wins. I think they’re playing their best basketball.”
Ohio State sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. said he’s taken particular note of Purdue’s offense. The Boilermakers play with the slowest tempo in the conference according to KenPom, but they are sixth in offensive efficiency.
“They’re really aggressive,” he said. “Their offense flows very well, and when they make shots, they’re really tough to guard.”
The Buckeyes got a good look at that last season, when Purdue led by as many as 39 points in a win at Mackey Arena. In the first meeting between the teams last season, Purdue forced Ohio State into 13 first-half turnovers on the way to a 12-point win at Value City Arena.
This year’s Ohio State team ranks 227th nationally in turnover percentage.
“They were really disruptive,” Holtmann said. “They’re active. They try to keep you from changing sides, really pressure the ball, try to keep it out of the post. We had a lot of turnovers trying to feed the post (last year).”
The game presents Ohio State’s second chance within a week to climb back to .500 in league play after opening 2-6.
“Definitely something in the back of our heads,” Washington said. “Just focus on our next opponent, and if we give it our all, no regrets.”