No. 3 Purdue is in the midst of its first losing streak of the season and has lost three of its past four games.
However, at least the Boilermakers won’t have to worry about opponents’ fans storming the court to celebrate their downfall on Sunday afternoon when they return home to oppose struggling Ohio State at West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue (23-4, 12-4 Big Ten) took all of the recent losses on the road and now will try to avoid losing three in a row for the first time since dropping four straight from Feb. 11-22, 2020.
The Boilermakers, who are typically dominant on the boards thanks largely to All-America candidate Zach Edey, were outrebounded 35-23 by a smaller Maryland lineup on Thursday night en route to a 68-54 loss. It was only the third time this season that Purdue did not win the battle on the glass.
Purdue did remedy its turnover issues against the Terrapins, though, committing only seven after giving the ball away 16 times in each of its other two recent defeats.
“We have to be tougher,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. “You have to come in here and win the possession battle. You have to have more rebounds and fewer turnovers. Now you can start right there and work toward something. We didn’t do that. When you get on the road and you have fewer possessions and now you don’t shoot well, oh, that’s going to be a long night versus a quality team.”
The Boilermakers collapsed down the stretch after taking an eight-point lead early in the second half. Purdue’s Mason Gillis was called for a foul and then picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official. Maryland scored the next 10 points as part of a 29-4 surge to put the game out of reach.
“They just dominated us,” Painter said.
Ohio State (11-15, 3-12) had a remarkably different outlook entering its home meeting with Purdue on Jan. 5. The Buckeyes were 10-3 overall, 2-0 in Big Ten play and ranked No. 24 in the nation. They were dealt their first conference loss, albeit in respectable fashion, 71-69. Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State’s leading scorer on the season, had 21 points in that game.
The Buckeyes have won only once in their past 13 games, and they have dropped seven in a row. They are on pace to finish with their first losing season since 2003-04, when they went 14-16.
Ohio State is coming off a 92-75 loss at Iowa on Thursday in which the Buckeyes gave the ball away 14 times.
“Turnovers led to easy scores for them,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “It was really our turnovers that fueled their offense and allowed them to get open, clean looks in transition.”
The most frustrating part has been the spurts of better play that the Buckeyes have shown, such as the first half against Iowa, when they made 5 of 6 3-point attempts and all 11 of their free throws. The turnovers, however, nullified those efforts and Ohio State didn’t shoot a single free throw after halftime.
“We got sped up a number of times, some of our young guys,” Holtmann said postgame. “They mixed it up some today, but it was more just turnovers in the open court that were critical. We had some poor decision-making.”
–Field Level Media