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February 6, 2012
Game 24: Ohio State
In this season of ups and downs, Purdue doesn't seem to be in a very good place right now, coming off a poor performance at home against rival Indiana.
So what better time than 9 p.m. Tuesday night to go play one of the country's most dominant teams on its home floor?
The Boilermakers play at No. 3 Ohio State looking to shock the college basketball world and beef up a pretty light NCAA Tournament résumé.
G: Lewis Jackson (5-9 - Senior)
G: Ryne Smith (6-3 - Senior)
G/F: Terone Johnson (6-2 - Sophomore)
F: D.J. Byrd (6-5 - Junior)
F: Robbie Hummel (6-9 - Senior)
G: William Buford (6-6 - Senior)
G: Lenzelle Smith Jr. (6-4 - Sophomore)
G: Aaron Craft (6-2 - Sophomore)
F: Deshaun Thomas (6-7 - Sophomore)
F: Jared Sullinger (6-9 - Sophomore)
More on Ohio State: Roster | Schedule | Statistics
Purdue (15-8, 5-5 Big Ten) needs big wins bad.
To make the NCAA Tournament, it's generally thought that the Boilermakers need to get to 20 wins to feel good about their chances come Selection Sunday.
But quality may be more important than quantity as Purdue remains the Big Ten's lone team without a win over a ranked opponent or a legitimate league contender.
Ohio State is one of four more chances Purdue gets for a big-time win in advance of the Big Ten Tournament. Others are road trips to Michigan and Indiana and a visit from Michigan State.
Who'd ever have thought? The Boilermakers have a better road record in the Big Ten than home record, though it without question faced stronger competition thus far in its games in Mackey Arena.
Purdue is 2-3 at home this Big Ten season and 3-2 on the road.
Purdue has been out-rebounded in each of its past three games, topped by Indiana's 18-board margin Saturday night.
Purdue's defensive percentages in Big Ten play are worst in the league. Opponents are shooting 46.6 percent and 40 percent from three-point range.
About the Opponent
The third-ranked Buckeyes are rolling toward a potential Big Ten title and No. 1 seed to the NCAA Tournament, having won their past five games, most recently a 58-52 win at previously red-hot Wisconsin.
Each of Ohio State's three losses have come on the road: to Kansas, Indiana and Illinois, each of whom have been ranked at one time or another.
In Columbus, the Buckeyes have been pretty much invincible, winners of 38 straight dating back to Purdue's win in Value City Arena in 2010.
This season, only then-seventh-ranked Florida has played the Buckeyes to within single-digits in VCA, losing 81-74.
Sullinger is Ohio State's headliner, as the future Lottery pick should be, as he averages 17.4 points on 58-percent shooting and grabs 9.1 rebounds per game.
But he has help.
Ohio State is the only team in the Big Ten to boast three of the league's top dozen scorers, as the big man joins sharp-shooting Buford (14.9) and Thomas (14.7) in the league's top 12.
The Buckeyes are a prolific scoring team, averaging 76.5 points and beating their opponents by an average of 21, but they're also one of the top defensive teams in the country, allowing just 55-and-a-half points for the season.
And that's not a number that was bloated during non-conference blowouts.
Ohio State has held its last four opponents under 55 points and has allowed 50 or fewer in four of its 10 conference games.
The Buckeyes out-rebound their opponents by an average of 7.5 and the only team in the Big Ten with a turnover margin better than Purdue's. Ohio State is plus-5.96, nearly a full turnover better than Purdue's margin of plus.-5.04.
The Buckeyes turn it over 11.6 times per game - third in the league behind Wisconsin (8.8) and Purdue (9.1) - but force an average of 17.6, most in the league by a mile.
The last time an unranked Purdue team beat a top-five ranked team on the road was Jan. 20, 1979 when it beat No. 4 Illinois 69-57.
The last time Purdue defeated a top-five ranked team on their home court was in 1994 against No. 3. Michigan. Purdue was ranked No. 9.
Purdue is the last visiting team to have won at Value City Arena, beating Ohio State 60-57 in 2010.
Purdue, ranked fourth nationally, ran its record to 22-3 that night in the win over the No. 9 Buckeyes.
Two games later, though, Hummel was injured at Minnesota.
Purdue's had a different player go for 30 or more points against the Buckeyes each of the past three seasons, with JaJuan Johnson scoring 30 and Hummel 35 in losses in 2009 and 2010 and E'Twaun Moore going for 38 in a win in Mackey last year.
Tip-off: 9 p.m.
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
Satellite: Sirius 91; XM 91
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."
GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Ohio State 72, Purdue 60
The difficulty of the individual matchups for Purdue and recent trending on both sides would suggest this game to unfold much more like the Buckeyes' romp in Columbus last year than the times the Boilermakers have played very well in Value City, winning two years and twice taking the favored Buckeyes into overtime in recent years.
It's difficult to foresee Purdue being able to match up with Sullinger on offense and on the glass or with the Buckeyes' size, skill and length on the perimeter enough to win this game, though stranger things have happened.
For the best Purdue team and recruiting coverage out there, click here.
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