Easy wins against Big Ten foes have been hard to come by for Ohio State men’s basketball, but it added one to its resume Saturday.
Ohio State (17-8, 7-7 Big Ten) cruised to a 68-52 win against Purdue (14-12, 7-8) during a game in which it never trailed, improving its home record to 14-2 on the season.
“Make no mistake, you beat a team that is as complete as Purdue is in a lot of ways –– on your home floor –– it’s a really good win,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said.
It took longer than 12 minutes for sophomore guard Duane Washington or sophomore forward Justin Ahrens to find their first look from 3 Saturday.
But on back-to-back possessions in the first half, both connected on their first triples of the night, giving Ohio State a 24-12 lead with 6:55 to play before the half.
The Buckeyes had jumped out to a 10-3 lead after 3s from both junior forward Kaleb Wesson and senior forward Andre Wesson in the early going.
It was no different in the second half, as Ohio State scored the first seven points of the period before Purdue redshirt senior forward Evan Boudreaux knocked down a 3 at the 17:09 mark.
A left-handed hook from Kaleb Wesson –– just his second basket of the game –– gave Ohio State a 36-20 lead in the opening minutes of the final 20 following a 3 from sophomore guard Luther Muhammad.
Muhammad finished with 11 points on 3-of-5 from deep. He’s averaging 10 points per game in his past three games after averaging 3.1 in his eight prior performances.
“It feels good, showing me that hard work pays off,” Muhammad said. “Stay with it. Continue to work hard. I got great coaches and great teammates that believe in me and continue to encourage me to keep my head and stay confident.”
The Boilermakers cut the lead to single digits with a reverse layup from sophomore guard Eric Hunter midway through the half, but a 3 from Kaleb Wesson stopped a 6-0 Purdue run on the following possession.
Ohio State junior forward Kyle Young, who led the Buckeyes with a career-high 16 points, threw down a two-handed dunk on an alley-oop pass from Walker that put the home crowd in a frenzy with seven minutes to play.
“He’s a hard-nosed tough dude and he’s about winning. You can’t have enough guys like Kyle Young on your team,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.
Ohio State started the game 4-of-5 shooting, and redshirt junior guard CJ Walker scored seven points by the 13:04 mark. He scored five straight on a 3 from the wing followed by a steal and transition layup seconds later.
But after taking a 12-point lead courtesy of an Ahrens 3-point make, Ohio State missed its next six shots, allowing Purdue to get back within single digits.
A runner from Washington made it 29-20 with seconds left though, and a stop on defense closed out the half with the Buckeyes ahead.
It was the 14th time Ohio State has held an opponent under 60 points this season.
“I thought our defense was as good and as sound as we’ve played all year,” Holtmann said.
Despite 10 turnovers in the first half, including four from Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State shot 5-for-10 from deep to remain on top.
The Buckeyes finished shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc, with six different players knocking down 3-pointers.
Ohio State goes on the road for a matchup with Iowa Thursday at 7 p.m.