The beat rolls on for the No. 3-ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team.
OSU (14-0, 1-0) earned its first Big Ten win Tuesday, topping Purdue (10-4, 0-1), 78-69, in West Lafayette, Ind.
A back-and-forth affair in the opening 20 minutes, OSU took a 34-33 lead into halftime after senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit a lay up just before the buzzer. Fellow senior guard Aaron Craft fired a pass to Smith Jr. from under the hoop on the play, one of Craft’s six assists in the half.
After the break, the Buckeyes turned to junior forward LaQuinton Ross to carry them to victory.
The Boilermakers center, sophomore A.J. Hammons, was a force inside, finishing the game with 18 points and 16 rebounds, but couldn’t match Ross, who poured in a career-high 25 points. He also collected 12 rebounds in the game.
OSU’s big men, junior centers Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, combined for 21 minutes played and both picked up their third fouls in the first six minutes of the second half. That caused OSU coach Thad Matta to play Ross down low and guard Hammons.
Ross played in the post for a majority of the second half, as Matta chose to play with the smaller lineup while OSU added to its lead.
Williams and McDonald combined for only six points and four rebounds in the win.
A tip-in by Hammons with just 1:38 left cut OSU’s lead to 69-64, but free throws by Craft, Ross, Smith Jr. and junior guard Shannon Scott helped put the game away.
Craft finished with seven points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals. Scott and Smith Jr. finished with 18 and 14 points, respectively.
Up next, OSU is scheduled to return to the Schottenstein Center to take on Nebraska (8-4, 0-0) Jan. 4, 2014. Tipoff is set for noon.