Purdue (14-9) at Ohio State (18-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Value City Arena (18,809) -- Columbus, Ohio. Television: BTN. Home Record: Purdue 11-2, OSU 13-2. Away Record: Purdue 2-4, OSU 4-3. Neutral Record: Purdue 1-3, OSU 1-0. Conference Record: Purdue 4-6, OSU 5-5. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 86-83.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio State Buckeyes return to Columbus for a two-game homestand at Value City Arena starting Saturday with a Big Ten Conference matchup versus the Purdue Boilermakers.
Purdue had lost a season-high four straight games prior to its thrilling three-overtime victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night, 77-74. The Boilermakers are a solid 14-9 overall but have gone just 4-6 in the league and 2-4 on the road.
Ohio State began the season as one of the nation's best, ascending all the way to No. 3 in the polls following a 15-0 start, but it stumbled all the way out of the Top 25 by losing five of its next six. The Buckeyes have regained a bit of momentum lately with wins over Wisconsin (59-58) and Iowa (76-69) to start February to improve 18-5 and 5-5 in conference action. They have also defended their home floor well (13-2).
The Buckeyes have defeated the Boilermakers on four straight occasions to surge ahead in the tight all-time series, 86-83.
After blowing leads late in regulation and the first two overtimes, the Boilermakers finally prevailed in the third extra session, with A.J. Hammons layup with 1:01 left proving to be the game-winner. They shot 42.5 percent from the field, just barely better than Minnesota's 42 percent, and their 50-40 advantage in the rebounding battle helped mask a terrible 9-of-23 showing from the free-throw line. Hammons sparked the effort with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, Kendall Stephens scored 14 points off the bench, Ronnie Johnson tallied 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Sterling Carter added 10 points and six assists.
On the season, Purdue shoots 42.8 percent from the field for 73.8 ppg, which is just enough to outpace its opponents (.415, 70.4 ppg). It earns advantages in both the rebounding (+3.8) and turnover (+0.9) battles, although its poor free-throw percentage (.654) often hurts it in close matchups. Terone Johnson leads the way with 12.6 ppg, and Hammons is a mainstay in the frontcourt with 10.9 ppg (on 51 percent from the field), 7.4 rpg and 2.2 bpg. Ronnie Johnson (10.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) rounds out the double-digit scorers.
The Buckeyes went into hostile territory on Tuesday night and came away with an outstanding seven-point road win over nationally-ranked Iowa by shooting 51 percent from the field (including 7-of-16 from 3-point range) and 19-of-24 from the free-throw stripe. Pacing five players in double figures was Aaron Craft with 17 points to go with six assists and six steals. LaQuinton Ross posted 13 points and seven assists, Amir Williams and Lenzelle Smith Jr. both scored 12 points and Shannon Scott added 11 off the bench.
The primary reason for Ohio State's stellar season has been due to its outstanding defense, which ranks ninth in the nation in allowing a lowly 59.3 ppg. Its offensive attack (.455 FG percentage, 72.1 ppg) is usually enough to support it, but it has scored less than its average in six of the past eight games. Ross puts up a team-best 14.1 ppg and grabs 5.5 rpg, Smith nets 11.8 ppg and the duo has combined to drain 75 3-pointers. Craft (9.4 ppg, 4.9 apg) is one of the nation's elite perimeter defenders with 2.6 spg and Williams mans the paint with 9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 1.7 bpg.
Ohio State appears to have rebounded from its rough patch from a few weeks back, and on its home floor, it should be able to dismiss and up-and-down Boilermakers squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 70, Purdue 60
02/08 10:27:58 ET