It doesn’t feel like it, but it has only been a couple of weeks since the Buckeyes soundly curb-stomped Purdue in Columbus. Unfortunately, it’s already time for our return trip; the chance for Matt Painter’s team to try to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd.
As usual, since we’ve already looked at the team once, we’ll take the time to focus on what has happened since the last time we tangled with the Boilers. For the most part, it’s been nothing but sunshine and daisies in West Lafayette.
Since that day, the day that might pay the Boilers back for Purdue-harbor, Purdue has played five games. They went 4-1 in the stretch, including both of their games against Wisconsin and two road games: at Wisconsin and at Illinois. Their one loss came exactly a week after they fell to the Buckeyes, losing to Wisconsin 66-59 at the Kohl Center.
Purdue got to pay the Badgers back, however, catching them Wednesday night with a 70-62 win at home. That game was a close affair the whole way, with Wisconsin holding the lead through the first 10 minutes before letting it slip away.
That would be the last time they lead the whole game. Despite that, they held pace and put themselves in a position to work the usual end-of-game comeback magic. Unfortunately, sometimes that strategy only serves to make the spread worse, as it did here.
Purdue fans will quickly tell you that the Boilers have found a third ‘go-to’ guy on the roster. Junior guard Lewis Jackson, or “Lewjack” as he is known to the fans, can really turn his game on and score some points for the Boilers. This is a great find for them, with the preseason loss of Hummel. Even better, he has gone from a quiet consistency in the non-conference, to having some spectacular games when it matters most.
Unfortunately, Lewjack does tend to be very hot-and-cold in his play in conference games. Observe his minutes and points in the chart below. You can see that while he gets a sizable number of minutes, he’s not always consistent with his scoring. Luckily for Purdue, their wins and losses are not tied to how well he plays implying that they don’t need him to be on to win. He’s an added benefit of scoring depth to a great team.
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It’s worth noting, though, that his two most recent poor outings (January 25th and February 1st) were losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin. If you include the dip before that, it was a one point win at home to Penn State. Food for thought.
With Lewjack clearly on the rise the last couple of games, while E’Twaun Moore and Ja’Juan Johnson continue their solid play, this Purdue team is a lot more dangerous. That’s not even counting their home court advantage.
At the moment, Ken Pomeroy is calling this game for the Buckeyes by one, 69-68, with a 51% chance for that result. The last time his computers did that was the first Buckeye’s loss of the season.
Considering where this game is being played, it’s going to take a concerted effort for the Buckeyes to pull out a victory in this one. If they can do it, however, it will go a long way in securing their spot in the discussion of the top team in the nation going into tournament play.
I can guarantee one thing about this game, the “Paint Crew”, if not the entire crowd, will be rocking for 40 minutes straight. The atmosphere will be absolutely electric, as it usually is in Mackey for a big game. I’m certain, though, that they’re going to have a little something extra for this one.