Ohio State hoops goes cold down stretch as Purdue pulls off stunner on Jaden Ivey's shot
With about two minutes to go, this game was Ohio State’s to lose.
The No. 15 Buckeyes, who would lead for 35:02, were clinging to a 60-59 lead against Purdue at Value City Arena on Tuesday night when E.J. Liddell soared for an offensive rebound and drew a foul with 2:11 to play. The sophomore forward went to the line for a one-and-one situation and, with a few dozen family members on hand, heard a few catcalls from one Purdue fan.
Liddell hit the first but missed the second when frontcourt mate Kyle Young grabbed the miss, extending the possession and finding junior Justin Ahrens on the right wing for a three-pointer. It was a four-point possession and a five-point lead with 2:08 to play.
They would score just one more point on a Duane Washington Jr. free-throw with 2.4 seconds left as the Boilermakers would make their final five field goals including a winning three-pointer from Jaden Ivey with five seconds remaining to stun the Buckeyes, 67-65.
It was a disappointing end for an Ohio State team riding a three-game winning streak that led by as many as 11 points during the first half.
“I thought we played hard at stretches, just not quite hard enough,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “I thought we played really hard in stretches. I thought we had some stretches of really good play and some stretches of really hard play.”
When it mattered most, they had empty possessions. With the lead at 60-57, Seth Towns turned the ball over on a travel call that Holtmann strongly believed was a foul on Ivey that wasn’t called. At the other end, he knifed through the defense for a layup to pull within one.
After the four-point possession, Purdue made it a one-possession game again on a Trevion Williams basket in the paint. The Buckeyes countered by failing to even get a shot off and committed a shot-clock violation, giving Purdue the ball with 1:10 to play and Ohio State ahead by three.
Sasha Stefanovic tied it with an open three with 52.5 seconds left.
“It’s an action they run,” Holtmann said. “We just had a miscommunication on the switch. That’s ultimately my fault.”
After moving the ball around and failing to get a shot, the Buckeyes called timeout with 33.4 seconds left and 11 on the shot clock.
The plan in the huddle was to “Get the best shot possible for us,” senior forward Kyle Young said. “We were running that to get E.J. a post-up on that side when we entered it and then a stagger for Justin if that wasn’t there.”
The ball got to Ahrens, who finished 3 for 9 from three, but his attempt was partially blocked by Aaron Wheeler and the loose ball went out of bounds last touched by the Buckeyes with 25.3 seconds left. A long video review upheld the call, setting the stage for Purdue’s game-winner.
It came from Ivey, a freshman who entered the night 5 for 27 (18.5%) from three and averaging 6.4 points per game. He would make 2 of 6 threes (33.3%) and finish with a career-high 15 points.
“We’ve just got to be tougher defensively, get what we want on the offensive end,” Young said. “Staying poised enough to do that. Had some defensive breakdowns, but at the end of the day just gotta play tougher. They hit a big shot at the end. Credit to them for that.”
The loss is only the second time the Buckeyes have led a double-digit lead slip away during Holtmann’s four years in Big Ten play. The last time it happened, the Ohio State led Minnesota 39-28 with 18:59 to play in the second half but lost 62-59 on Jan. 23, 2020, at home.
Coming off a three-game stretch that included top-15 road wins against Rutgers and Illinois despite being without primary point guard CJ Walker, it stung.
“As a team, we get better every single day,” junior guard Duane Washington Jr. said. “It’s January. It’s 2021. Happy new year. Everybody’s working hard. We’re in the middle of it now. We know what to expect. We know how hard it is. We know how tough it’s gonna be.
“There’s no more exceptions. We’ve got to come out and fight every single night. We’ve got to be the team at the end who’s fighting harder. We showed some toughness, had some plays and a couple plays and minutes that we put together that were tough. We’ve got to continue to grow so we can complete it for 40 minutes.”
Too many threes for Duane Washington Jr., Buckeyes?
Ohio State opened its scoring with three free throws from Ahrens, who was fouled on his first attempt from behind the arc. It foreshadowed what was to come against a Purdue defense that was fine letting at least some of the Buckeyes fire at will from distance.
By the end, Ohio State had taken 35 of its 53 shots from three-point range. It’s the most threes the Buckeyes have attempted this season and tied for the third-most in single-game program history. Washington and Ahrens led the way with nine attempts each as six of the seven Buckeyes to score hit at least one three-pointer.
“It was a few too many,” Holtmann said. “I thought we did have some good looks, but it was a few too many for sure. We tried to establish the paint, a little bit better in the second half, but as physical the game was and was called, we weren’t able to do that. That’s my fault.”
Ohio State’s first five field goals were three-pointers. It wouldn’t make a two-point shot until Young scored with 7:46 to play in the first half.
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After making 9 of 22 first-half attempts (40.9%), the Buckeyes were 5 for 13 (38.5%) in the second half to finish 14 for 35 (40.0%) for the game. The 14 makes are Ohio State’s most in a Big Ten game this year and tied for ninth-most in single-game program history.
“I thought we could’ve took a couple better ones, myself included, but other than that they’re all good shots for us,” Washington said. “We have some really good shooters on the team and they were going in early. You’ve got to stay confident and believe in yourself.”
Washington’s six makes tied his career-high total. He led the Buckeyes with 21 points and was 6 for 9 from three but 1 for 5 from two.
The six two-point field goal makes are less than half Ohio State’s prior season-low in Big Ten play this season. The two numbers are connected, and Holtmann said the Buckeyes probably shot too many threes.
“That’s how their defense is built,” the coach said. “They leave guys open they want to shoot. They don’t guard you, and they close out really short. Give them credit, it’s been really successful for them. I think they also did that knowing they were going to shadow E.J. on most of his post catches. Ultimately we’ve got to figure out ways to get guys around and get them in the spots we need to get them into.”
After averaging 82.3 points during their winning streak, the 65 points marked Ohio State’s lowest output since it finished with 60 in a 17-point road loss to Minnesota on January 3. In their four Big Ten losses, the Buckeyes are averaging 63.8 points per game.
“We need to get better at getting the ball where we want to get the ball,” Washington said. “Purdue’s defense does a good job speeding you up and trying to get you out of your stuff that you want to run. They took advantage of us on that end. We’ve got to get better as a group, as a team, with that stuff.”
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Historic win for Purdue
After winning at Rutgers, beating Northwestern at home and then knocking off Illinois on Saturday, the Buckeyes climbed six spots to No. 15 in this week’s Associated Press poll and were poised near the top of the Big Ten standings.
Purdue, too, brought a three-game winning streak into Value City Arena. Not only did the Boilermakers extend their streak, but they accomplished some history in doing so. Purdue swept the season series with the Buckeyes, who were ranked No. 20 nationally when they took a 67-60 loss at Mackey Arena on December 16.
This is the first time Purdue has ever defeated ranked Ohio State teams in consecutive games. It’s also the first road win for the Boilermakers against a top-15 team since a 75-61 win at No. 11 Michigan on February 25, 2012.
Purdue is now 4-14 all-time inside Value City Arena.
“Give Purdue credit,” Holtmann said. “Thought they made a lot of really tough plays in the game. It was a hard-fought Big Ten game. This one obviously stings. We’ll have to move forward.”
Ohio State Quotable
“We’re always trying to not be a prisoner of the moment. I think it’s always about progress and growth and getting better. You’re going to get banged up in this league. Every game out is going to be like this. The only thing that matters is what our locker room feels and we’re disappointed but we’ve got to figure out how to respond to this and move forward.” – Holtmann
“We were just getting good, open looks the majority of the time. They were playing off multiple different guys. We were getting good looks for the most part so we wanted to take those shots because we have confidence in everybody who can shoot that.” – Young, on the threes