COLUMBUS, Ohio - If Tuesday night's game against No. 12 Purdue was set to be Ohio State's mid-term test for the 2010-11 season, then head coach Thad Matta shas plenty to be proud of. Matta's No. 1 Buckeyes had six players score in double figures as Ohio State (21-0, 8-0) opened up a 31-point lead over the Boilermakers (17-4, 6-2) before cruising to a 87-64 win in front of a packed house in Value City Arena.
William Buford led the way for Ohio State with 19 points including going 5-6 from beyond the arc while point guard Aaron Craft did a little bit of everything with 11 points, six assists and six rebounds. Purdue was led by JaJuan Johnson and his game high 22 points while E'Twaun Moore had 16 points of his own in a losing effort.
The Buckeyes never looked back once in the game as Buford hit a pair of three pointers to start Ohio State's scoring before the team opened up a 26-9 lead in the first ten minutes of the game. Ohio State held Purdue to 39-percent shooting in the first half while the Buckeyes went for 57-percent including 6-9 from beyond the arc.
"I liked our mental approach that we had coming into the game and so much started with our defense and I thought that was able to generate some pretty good offense for us," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said.
Jared Sullinger was held largely in check for the first half of the game as a scoring weapon (ending up with 17 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes of action) but when the freshman forward is not scoring he is usually getting it done in other ways.
"We pass the ball pretty well and every time someone doubles down on Sully we always pass the ball around to get open looks," Buford said.
Most people will notice the Ohio State offensive effort but it was Ohio State's effort on the defensive side of the ball that really set the tone for this game according to Purdue's head coach Matt Painter.
"Ohio State has a lot of toughness, experience and are a good defensive team," Painter said.
The Buckeyes took a 20 point lead into the halftime locker room and played nearly even with the Boilermakers in the second half but the game had long been decided before the final buzzer.
"It ends up 23 (points) but we got five or six calls in the second half, kind of some mercy calls. It really should have been about 30 or 40 points." Painter said.
Craft's importance to this team can never be stated enough and despite coming off of the bench his play is what gives this team a different look when he comes in for Dallas Lauderdale. Through the season people have seen Craft hit the long range shot but in the last couple of games he has been able to drive as well.
"There were openings and I was able to take advantage this time and finish at the hoop," Craft said.
Matta joked with the media after the game that he must watch the game differently because he didn't see as many glowing things as everyone else was talking about. The Buckeyes did go 12-22 from the free throw line which equates out to 55-percent. The team ended up 58-percent from outside.
"I asked the official at one point if we could shoot our free throws from behind the three point line," Matta joked. "That was probably the down point, we couldn't make our free throws."
But everyone in the Scarlet and Gray agreed that this was the first time of the season that the Buckeyes were able to get things done both on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. And the media scrutiny is heavy on this team with the No. 1 ranking associated with the team.
"I think it was a loud answer to those questions but again we just focus on our next game and that is Northwestern," Sullinger said.