Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No. 1 Ohio State Eviscerates No. 12 Purdue

Anyone wanna question Ohio State now?

The nation's top-ranked team left little doubt Tuesday night in its superiority, beating Purdue 87-64 in a game it led by as many as 30. The Buckeyes never trailed and led by double digits for 34 minutes.

Sure, it was at home, but the Buckeyes thoroughly dominated the 12th-ranked team in the nation -- a team coming off a resounding victory over Michigan State. Ohio State (21-0, 8-0 Big Ten) is clearly the best team in the country right now.

It was the very definition of a total team effort. Ohio State got six players in double figures in points, with no one having more than 19. It had five with at least four rebounds, with no one having more than eight, and five guys with at least a pair of assists -- and none with more than six. The Buckeyes hit 11 of 19 from 3-point range, with five players hitting at least one. And on and on. Just look at the box score.

William Buford led the Buckeyes with 19 points. The junior nailed five of his six threes. Burly freshman Jared Sullinger had 17 points and seven boards.

JaJuan Johnson led the Boilermakers (17-4, 6-2) with 22 points and seven rebounds. E'Twaun Moore contributed 16 points, but wasn't near his best.

How It Was Lost: Purdue seemed to implement the "let's let anyone but Jared Sullinger beat us" defense early. That proved to be a mistake, because Ohio State is no one-trick pony. The Buckeyes have lots of weapons, and it showed. You cannot just leave Buford, Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Deshaun Thomas alone for jumpers.

How It Was Won: Pick your poison. Ohio State dominated every single facet of the game from the start. Offensively, defensively, on the boards, in transition, etc. It was just pure domination.

What We Didn't Like: E'Twaun Moore had a good first half against Michigan State, but he has since resumed his shooting woes. The senior made only 1 of 7 from the floor in the first half and ended 4 of 13 on the game. He did get to the line eight times -- making seven -- to help his total points, but he has to shoot better for the Boilers to be an elite team. JaJuan Johnson can only do so much on offense.

More Than One: It's easy to only concentrate on Sullinger. No one could blame the general public for that. But Ohio State has two other stellar freshman and it showed Tuesday night. Once Purdue realized it couldn't continue to give up wide-open threes, Aaron Craft began to penetrate the Boilers' defense and came through with a big game. The freshman point guard ended with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. And by the way, he was being guarded by Kelsey Barlow, who is no Chris Kramer but still regularly shuts down his man (just ask Talor Battle or Kalin Lucas). Not to be completely outdone, Deshaun Thomas announced his presence with authority as well, pouring in 13 points and six rebounds.

With a trio of freshman, a trio of seniors and one star junior, the Buckeyes survive with the best group of seven players -- not just one -- in all of college basketball. Think about how we haven't even mentioned Diebler's 13-point, 8-rebound, 6-assist effort yet. Or Lighty's lock-down defense and 10 points. Or Dallas Lauderdale's post presence on defense.

That's what makes a No. 1 team. And not just a placeholder No. 1. Ohio State is the best team in the country. Period.    

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