Top-ranked Buckeyes cruise past Boilermakers, 87-64
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS — The Ohio State Buckeyes knew there were doubters about their claim to No. 1.
There might not be any more.
William Buford had 19 points, Jared Sullinger added 17 and the top-ranked Buckeyes played almost flawlessly in rolling past No. 12 Purdue 87-64 on Tuesday night.
“It was a loud answer to those questions,” Sullinger said.
Jon Diebler had 13 points and a career-high eight rebounds, Deshaun Thomas added 13 points, David Lighty scored 10 points and Aaron Craft had 11 points and six assists for Ohio State (21-0, 8-0 Big Ten), which ran its record to 62-4 all-time when atop the polls.
“We got five of six calls in the second half that were just mercy calls,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “It really should have been 30 or 40 points (difference).”
The Buckeyes and No. 4 San Diego State (20-0) are the only unbeaten teams remaining in Division I.
The dilemma facing every Ohio State opponent is the same: Do you double down on the wide-bodied Sullinger at the risk of leaving the perimeter shooters open? Or do you hope you can hold down the big man and match up with the marksmen behind the arc?
So far no one has solved that puzzle.
“Jared is definitely a great player. Teams definitely have to decide how they’re going to guard him,” Craft said.
“At the same time, we have the ability to put people around him who can make plays. Will knocked down those two 3s early and that’s because they put so much attention on Jared. That just opens it up for all of us. That’s definitely a big key to our team, that so many people can put the ball in the basket.”
JaJuan Johnson had 22 points and E’Twaun Moore added 16 for the Boilermakers (17-4, 6-2).
A small contingent of Purdue fans in one block high in the upper deck began a “Let’s go, Boilers!” cheer late in the half, with their team down by 20. Ohio State’s fans responded by simply pointing to the scoreboard.
Ohio State, which shot 55 percent from the field and hit 11 of 19 3-pointers, used an 11-0 first-half run to take control and never let up.
The victory puts the Buckeyes up by two games in the Big Ten. After several close calls in conference play, they had yet to really blow out a team. They chose a high-profile game against a quality opponent to do just that.
Coach Thad Matta said he didn’t really know how to process the win.
“I’ve never looked at a stat sheet before that said, ’21-0,”’ he said with a laugh.
Ahead by 20 points at halftime after shooting 57 percent from the field and making 6 of 9 3-pointers, they kept it up even as Purdue turned up the pressure in the second half.
Late in the shot clock, with the Boilermakers scrambling to get back in the game, the 6-foot-9 Sullinger even tossed in a 3 to the delight of a near-capacity crowd of 17,556.
“It’s something I’ve been working on in practice,” Sullinger said with a grin. “I knew I could shoot.”
Another 3 by Buford and a power move inside by Sullinger swelled the lead to 61-36 after the opening 5 minutes of the second half. The Buckeyes led by as many as 31 points before substituting throughout the final 10 minutes.
The Buckeyes evened the all-time series at 82 wins apiece. And they did it convincingly.
“For lack of a better word, they stole our spirit,” Painter said.