After beating the Minnesota Gophers at home on Wednesday, the Purdue Boilermakers will travel a state over to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. With the season coming to a close, every game is a must win for the Boilermakers if they want a chance to make the NCAA Tournament.
These two squads faced off back on Dec. 31, 2013, which ended with the Buckeyes walking out of Mackey Arena with a 78-69 victory. At that time, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 in the nation, but have since lost five out of their last nine and slid out of the Top 25.
A victory over Ohio State won’t be the big resume victory Purdue is needing, but at this point a win is a win.
The Boilermakers snapped a four-game losing streak after their less-than-thrilling triple overtime battle with Minnesota. That victory could give Purdue the momentum it’s desperately needed to start a winning streak it desperately needs.
It almost feels pointless to point out what needs to happen for the Boilermakers to beat the Buckeyes because it’s the same need for every game. Purdue’s outcome depends almost entirely on which A.J. Hammons shows up that night. If they get passionate Hammons, then you get nights like he had against Minnesota: 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. But if you get bored Hammons then you get a night like he had against Minnesota the first time: seven points, one rebound and one assist.
Hammons had a terrific games against the Buckeyes the first time they met – 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks. He’s going to need a similar performance if the Boilermakers have any chance of leaving the Value City Arena with their second straight victory.
If Hammons can play his game, then he will need the rest of the team to step up, which is easier said than done. Purdue ranks 120th in scoring (73.8 points per game) and 259th in field goal percentage (42.8 percent) on the offensive end. The defensive end doesn’t look any prettier; 186th in points allowed (70.4 ppg) and 95th in opponent field goal percentage (41.5 percent).
Ohio State’s offense isn’t much better than Purdue’s, but their defense is one of the best in the nation. They rank 163rd and 119th in scoring and field goal percentage, respectively, but on defense they rank ninth in points allowed (59.3 points) and 42nd in opponent field goal percentage (40 percent.)
Purdue is running out of chances and a winning streak is their only way to redeem this lost season.