No. 14 Ohio State heads back home in driver's seat

Peter Castro
February 11, 2018

When: Saturday at 4 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network, with Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo on the call.

"We've had an incredibly resilient group and we're going to have to hope that continues", first-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.

Cook was held to just eight points, his lowest total since January 7, and the Hawkeyes also got just 11 points from Jordan Bohannon.

Trailing by eight points a minute into the second half, Iowa fell apart. The obvious flip side of that is that the Buckeyes will be seeing the Hawkeyes for the second time too. Ohio State didn't score until its 10th possession.

Holtmann said Ohio State was outplayed in the second half at Iowa and noted that the Hawkeyes have improved since then with a healthier lineup. I wonder what little tweaks he might make from the start over these last five now that there won't be any secrets between the Buckeyes and their opponents. The Hawkeyes play faster than anyone in the Big Ten. Each of their last four victories have come by single digits, including narrow three-point wins against IN and Iowa the last two times out. He netted just eight points, less than half his average in Big Ten play.

"All week we talked about how are we going to respond to an emotional win like that, and I think we bounced back well from that", freshman center Kaleb Wesson said in a postgame television interview.

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"I think this is maybe the best road environment in the Big Ten, so to win here and show the composure we had is big for our team", Bates-Diop said. They can both defend (Purdue is 13th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency; Michigan State is 10th); and they have both have future National Basketball Association players. The Buckeyes handled the turnaround from that win well, beating Maryland 91-69 at home after beating the Spartans. McQuaid hit a pair of 3-pointers less than two minutes apart, both answering Purdue makes.

The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games, and they have a fine go-to-weapon in 6-11 sophomore forward Dewan Huell, who is averaging 12.8 points and shooting 59.6 percent from the field. With Kam Williams still serving his suspension, the Buckeyes need a scoring lift from somewhere. He had 15 points and seven assists in a loss to Iowa and a career-high 26 points and six rebounds in an overtime loss to MI.

After those string of three games, the Spartans started this winning streak. The idea was to eliminate Purdue's shooters at the expense of letting the Spartans' big men battle 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas on their own. But Wesson also fouled out when Ohio State played Iowa last month.

He did his best work in the final minute with the game tied at 65.

The Spartans (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) are heading into the game riding a seven-game winning streak while the Boilermakers (23-3,12-1) just had their 19-game streak ended by Ohio State at home on Wednesday night.

Purdue and Michigan State, based on the depth of talent alone, are still likely to be favored if they run into Ohio State again in the postseason. After losing two of three Big Ten games in January to Ohio State and MI, the Spartans have reeled off seven straight wins and are playing to the level that was expected. A tie atop the regular season standings - Ohio State and Purdue are now tied - would result in co-champions being named. Purdue vs. Michigan State will be broadcast on ESPN.

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