In Saturday's loss to Michigan State, Purdue hung tough for 30 minutes.
Against No. 15 Ohio State on Tuesday night, the Boilers found themselves within six points after 38 minutes. From there, Purdue's inexperience reared its head, allowing the Buckeyes to escape with a 74-64 victory.
Freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson missed a runner only eight seconds into the shot clock, bringing a premature end to a possession that could have seen Purdue cut OSU's lead to three.
After Sam Thompson drilled an 18-foot jumper to put Ohio State up eight with 1:44 left, Johnson again saw daylight between him and the basket. Unfortunately, Buckeye big man Evan Ravenel was waiting to swat the ball into the front row.
Finally, the normally stout Purdue defense simply went to sleep and allowed OSU point guard Aaron Craft to dribble out the entire shot clock with only Johnson pressuring.
The opportunity was there for Purdue to upset a second ranked team in as many games at Mackey Arena, but poor shot selection doomed the Boilermakers for most of the night. Purdue shot only 38.8 percent from the floor, and a Buckeye team that came in averaging four blocked shots a game swatted nine.
While Ronnie Johnson's stat line looks impressive (11 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals), his shooting remains a weakness. Johnson was 5-of-15 from the floor and 1-of-5 from the line. Only his brother Terone, Purdue's leading scorer, took more shots (21).
Even Ohio State All-America candidate Deshaun Thomas took fewer shots than Ronnie Johnson, making 8-of-13 from the floor. Thomas did not score in the final 13:28, which would normally make any coach smile. In those final minutes, however, point guard Aaron Craft slammed the door on the Boilermakers.
Craft scored 11 of his 15 points in those final 13 minutes, a satisfying cap to a night that started with Craft picking up two fouls in the first four minutes.
The inevitability of OSU's victory seemed to be summed up with 8:44 left. Craft staggered to the basket, bumped into Purdue center A.J. Hammons, threw up a no-look circus shot, got it to fall and drew a foul call from one referee, who overruled a traveling call made by another official. The foul was Hammons' fourth, sending him to the bench for part of crunch time and making two straight games in which the freshman has been whistled for a controversial foul.
Three of Purdue's top four scorers were the touted freshmen Hammons, Ronnie Johnson and Rapheal Davis. Davis in particular made the most of his playing time, logging 20 minutes for only the second time this season.
All three of Davis' field goals came at key moments when Ohio State appeared poised to pull away. Davis then made it his mission to contain his Fort Wayne (Ind.) high school rival, Thomas, during the second half.
Coming into this game, Ohio State was licking its wounds after a pounding from the same Illinois team that Purdue had beaten at Mackey. Purdue fans were visualizing a victory over a vulnerable Buckeyes team as the beginning of a potential winning streak, with games against Big Ten bottom feeders Penn State and Nebraska ahead.
The angry Buckeyes, meanwhile, needed to atone for their 33 percent shooting against the Illini. While Purdue was able to harass the Buckeyes into 13 turnovers, OSU got the shots to fall to the tune of 56 percent. A team that shoots that well is hard to deny.
Purdue next awaits a visit from Penn State on Sunday and hopes to stay in the game for 40 minutes, not 30 or 38.
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