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Ohio State men’s basketball team defeats No. 2 Purdue in interim coach’s first game


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State stunned No. 2 Purdue in the interim coaching matchup on Sunday, winning 73-69, a day after the NCAA Tournament selection committee picked the Boilermakers as the early favorites for the No. 1 overall seed during March Madness.

Bruce Thornton scored 22 points and Jamison Battle added 19 to help Ohio State (15-11, 5-10 Big Ten) avoid a setback in Jake Diebler’s first game at the helm.

Chris Holtmann was fired on Wednesday after several disappointing seasons. The beleaguered Buckeyes had lost nine of their last eleven games. Purdue (23-3, 12-3) led by 8 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Ohio State fans stormed the field.

“What a resilient group,” said Diebler, overcome with emotion as he greeted his family on the crowded field. “We’ve got some great young men among us who have come together so well over the last few days; I don’t know if any of us fully anticipated that they would be able to reach this level in such a short time.”

Ohio State played with energy from the start, leading 35-30 at halftime and taking a 12-point lead six minutes into the second half.
With the Boilermakers closing the gap, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Zach Edey took over, but it didn’t happen.

Lance Jones hit a 3-pointer to tie Purdue’s score at 65 with 1:39 remaining. But Battle made a field goal and hit a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to give Ohio State a 69-65 lead.

With Edey’s easy dunk, the difference increased to two with 16 seconds left in the match. As time was about to expire, the Boilermakers fouled Thornton, who went to the line and made both foul shots.

Edey made the Purdue star’s 58th career double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

But the Boilermakers turned the ball over 14 times, resulting in 22 Ohio State points.

“We just need to take care of the ball,” Edey said. “We left them behind. We had more possession that way, but we can’t let them transition. We have to play in half court. … It’s hard to win the game if a team scores 22 points in transition.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter was impressed with the Buckeyes’ performance after an emotional week in which his beloved coach was fired.

“This is what you don’t know; can you get them down, can you keep them down and then they just kind of disappear, which definitely didn’t happen. “They are winning the match,” he said. “So you know, where is their fight? What will happen? I think they answered that. Their fight was great.”

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Purdue: The Boilermakers couldn’t match Ohio State’s energy and went off the rails en route to the sweep they wanted to end the Big Ten regular season. They have won nine straight and won 16 of 17 matches. Their last defeat was on January 9.

“We fought hard to be in this position,” Painter said. “When you say you’re going to get everyone’s best shot, you think it’s some kind of folk tale. But you get the best chance of everyone.”

Ohio State: A tough week ended with awe for the Buckeyes.

“We went out there, had fun and took a little break,” Battle said.


Purdue: Hosts Rutgers on Thursday night.

Ohio State: Visits Minnesota on Thursday night.


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