Ohio State started its game against Purdue as well as it could have hoped.
Less than 10 minutes into the game, the Buckeyes led 15-8, forcing six Purdue turnovers and holding the Boilermakers without a field goal on their first seven attempts.
Despite cutting its deficit down to three points in the second half, Ohio State failed to overcome Purdue, who recorded a 22-1 run in the first half that secured the 79-67 victory against the Buckeyes.
The defeat is the first five-game losing streak since Ohio State lost 17 straight games in the 1997-98 season. The Buckeyes started 7-3 that year before going 8-22 following the streak.
“It’s not been an easy stretch, that’s for sure,” Holtmann said. “We just have to play more sound, and I’ve gotta make sure we learn from this, and take steps forward.”
Heading into halftime, Ohio State gained momentum through a half-court heave by junior forward Andre Wesson, who hit the 3 as time expired to lower the deficit to 10.
Wesson was the spark plug for the Buckeyes to start the second half, scoring 10 of the team’s first 18 points to start the half, hitting all four of his shots.
Wesson finished with a career-high 22 points, and started a perfect 9-of-9 from the field. His previous career high was 13 points, also against the Boilermakers on Feb. 7.
After taking the seven-point lead in the first half, the Buckeyes never regained the lead. Ohio State failed to score during a near-four minute span in the middle of the first half, and committed 13 turnovers during the opening 20 minutes.
“You can’t turn it over 13 times in the first, and expect to put yourself in a position that you need to be in,” Holtmann said.
Ohio State also forced turnovers on defensive side. The Boilermakers turned the ball over 18 times in the game, 11 in the first half, with the Buckeyes scoring 25 points off the turnovers.
Purdue looked to its star, junior guard Carsen Edwards, leading the team with 13 points on the first half. But Edwards was mainly shut down by freshman guard Luther Muhammad, shooting 2-of-10 from the field, but he hit eight of his nine attempts from the free-throw line to help the Boilermakers take a 10-point lead into half.
Edwards finished the game with a game-high 27 points, making 6-of-16 from the field.
Ohio State hit on eight of its first 10 shots to start the second half, including seven in a row, topped off by a 3 by freshman forward Justin Ahrens to bring the Buckeyes to within four, trailing Purdue 54-50.
Sophomore guard Musa Jallow made an impact off the bench for Ohio State, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting.
“Whenever you lose a game like that, you just want to try to find the good out of it, and where you can learn from, the mistakes that we made, the things that we can control,” Jallow said.
After shooting 6-of-26 from 3 in the loss to Maryland, the Buckeyes turned it around from deep, hitting 45.5 percent of their 3-point attempts against the Boilermakers.
Sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson again found himself in foul trouble for Ohio State, committing three fouls in the first half for the Buckeyes. Head coach Chris Holtmann did not agree with the third foul call, and earned a technical foul for arguing with the refs with 1:42 to go in the first half.
“There’s no question it was a critical call, and I made that clear to him multiple times, in various ways, that that was a really critical point, that you’re limiting one of our interior guy, and, currently, our leading scorer,” Holtmann said. “I just adamantly disagreed with the call.”
Kaleb Wesson earned his fourth foul less than four minutes into the second half, and didn’t return to the court until 5:34 remaining in the game, and fouled out less than a minute later.
The Buckeyes’ leading scorer this season, Kaleb Wesson finished the game with six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
Ohio State goes on the road to take on Nebraska at noon on Saturday.
“Any time you lose five straight definitely sucks,” Andre Wesson said. “I mean it really hurts, but the season goes on, they don’t stop playing, games just don’t stop, so we’re gonna go out there, play as hard as we can at Nebraska.”