Ohio State didn’t let Iowa force the agenda this time.
The Buckeyes are now ranked 22nd nationally with a 3-1 record to open the 2018 season, but they are coming off their best season in program history previous year. A ball screen failed to shake the Buckeyes’ leading scorer loose, so drove to the basket instead. He knows he’s good; he wants to be great. He wasn’t so sure. The Big Ten does not break ties in the regular season, even though Ohio State has won at Michigan State and at Purdue, so a shared title is still very much in play.
Michigan State (23-3 overall, 11-2 Big Ten) and Purdue (23-3, 12-1) men’s basketball play in a top-5 matchup at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Dominique Oden has scored 20 or more points in four of the last five games, AeRianna Harris ranks among the conference leaders in field-goal percentage, rebounding and blocks and Andreona Keys averages 13.6 points per game to lead a balanced offense. Iowa’s slump extended to an 0-5 start and now sit 3-10 in conference play.
But Painter said if other teams choose to defend Haas with only one player he wants the 7-foot-2 center to continue getting the ball.
The long answer to those questions is complicated and nuanced.
The Boilermakers shot particularly well from beyond the arc in the early going, hitting five of their first 10 3-pointers, including back-to-back 3s from Carsen Edwards and P.J. Thompson that gave the visitors a 25-16 advantage with 7:44 to go in the first half.
“He’s a load”, Holtmann said of Edwards.
“We thought it was all them, then we went back and watched the film and at times, we’re just not passing and catching”, Painter said.
“I don’t think you have to have balance”, Painter insisted.
“We’ll just wait on that”, Coach McCaffery said. It’s a lesson he’s still learning as well. Nick Ward, who many believe was snubbed from the Big Ten All-Freshman team a year ago, has taken the next step as a sophomore.
Iowa’s most hard challenge against the Buckeyes is containing forward Keita Bates-Diop, who leads the Big Ten in scoring at 20.2 points per game and ranks third in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game.
Purdue led by as many as 10 points in the first half and by eight points early in the second half.
“I tried to [call glass]”, Wesson joked afterward. While the Buckeyes usually see production from a bunch of different guys, against Purdue they received a huge boost from an unlikely pair: Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow. Purdue has had three of their bench players appear in at least one contest this season.
What will be the mindset and psyche of the Boilermakers coming off their first loss since Thanksgiving?
Purdue (23-3) has been on a stage this big once in 2017-18 … and it flopped on Wednesday vs. The former five-star prospect from La Lumiere High School listed Purdue in his final five but ultimately chose Michigan State.
McCaffery said point guard Jordan Bohannon is returning to full health after dealing with a virus that made him questionable to play against Michigan State.
In that light, it’s easy to understand why Holtmann remains a bit uneasy about singing his team’s praises or blindly believing in his breakout superstar.
Ohio State is in the top half of almost every Big Ten statistical category. Maybe the Buckeyes should start trusting one another to get the job done.