When talking about Ohio State's comeback win against Purdue last night, everyone is going to mention Evan Turner's 23 second half points. Or the 14 straight points he scored in the last four minutes to turn a 10 point deficit into a 2 point lead. Or the 29 points and school-record eight threes Robbie Hummel had in the first half.
Don't get me wrong, what Hummel and Turner did last night was nothing short of incredible. There's a reason both are on a short list for Big Ten player of the year, and they showed it last night.
But that wasn't the story of the game last night.
No, the bigger issue is what Purdue lacks; namely, a point guard with Lewis Jackson sidelined with a broken foot.
The Boilermakers got bailed out by Hummel in the first half. They had nine turnovers in the first ten minutes. Other than Hummel, Purdue scored just 12 first half points. As a team, they shot 22 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, and hit just 2-12 once you factor out Hummel's performance. What Hummel's hot first half hid was Purdue's inability to get penetration against the Ohio State defense. The Boilermakers weren't attacking the gaps of the Buckeyes 2-3 zone or getting the post touches in the paint, instead throwing the ball around the perimeter until they happened to get a look at a three.
They caught a break when Hummel caught fire.
After halftime, OSU went man, keeping David Lighty, Jon Diebler, or William Buford attached to Hummel's hip. As a result, the Boilermakers scored just 25 points in the second half, as Hummel was 2-8 from the floor with six points. If it weren't for the ability of E'Twaun Moore to create going 1-on-1, 25 points would have been a stretch.
The bottom-line is that Purdue is essentially a bunch of jump shooters and defenders. Outside of Moore, is there anyone on this team that can consistently create their own shot? Is there anyone that makes a coach think "we cannot be late with help side if he penetrates"? Hell, even 6'10" center JaJuan Johnson's best offensive weapon (outside of the catch-and-dunk) is a 15-17 foot jumper.
Simply put, the Boilermakers don't have a player that can put pressure on the defense.
They don't have a creator.
It doesn't necessarily have to be a point guard. Ohio State doesn't have a true point guard, but they have Evan Turner. Turner can attack the rim. He can beat his man and force the defense to help. He can find the open player when the help comes, or finish at and around the rim if its not there in time.
They have Kelsey Barlow. Barlow isn't a bad player - hes a big, strong guard that can defend and rebound, but he hasn't shown anywhere near the ability to be a playmaker, a passer, or a scorer just yet.
They have Keaton Grant, who has had a solid career for Purdue. But if you're a Purdue fan, do you really feel comfortable relying on Grant, who's averaging a career high with 2.1 apg this season, as your primary playmaker?
Purdue is a phenomenal defensive team, maybe the best in the country, and they played great defensively last night. In the first 36 minutes of the game, they had held Ohio State to just 52 points and Evan Turner to 18 points on 7-17 shooting and just 3 assists to 6 turnovers.
But in the final four minutes, their lack of a true point guard reared its head again.
Up 62-55 after a three-point play from Turner, Ohio State threw a press at Purdue, forcing back-to-back turnovers that both led to easy baskets for Turner. On their next possession, up just 62-59, Chris Kramer forced a tough shot in the lane that was blocked by Dallas Lauderdale, and at the other end Turner knocked down a three which tied the game.
(photo credit: Cleveland.com)
Two possessions later, after an E'Twaun Moore jumper was sandwiched by four Evan Turner free throws, Purdue once again turned the ball over, this time with Keaton Grant losing the ball out of bounds with 40 seconds left.
Lewis Jackson could have helped prevent those turnovers.
Purdue is outstanding defensively, good enough that it is going to win them a lot of games. But, as I've said since the injury to Jackson happened, Purdue is not a complete team.
And when playing against good teams - like Wisconsin and Ohio State - they are going to be exposed.