WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Buckeyes went a long way in showing that Saturday's game at Indiana was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come with Deshaun Thomas going off for 22 points (14 in the first half) as he returned to his native state as the Buckeyes (12-3, 2-1) rolled to a 74-64 win over Purdue (7-8, 1-2).
The Buckeyes did not settle for jump shots the way that they did in the game at the Illini and got a good mixture of points in the paint (34) and from outside of the paint (40). The Buckeyes also held a major edge on the glass with a 39-32 advantage (22-11 in the first half).
Ohio State fell seven spots in the Associated Press poll after the debacle against the Illini and Ohio State knew it was important to get out to a good start and get a big win, even if the season is only three games into league play.
"I knew we needed a statement game, in the Illinois game we were really, really soft and we had no toughness so the main thing for this game was showing some toughness and showing the Big Ten that we are not joking around anymore," Ohio State guard Shannon Scott said after the game.
Scott didn't have the scoring spark that he has brought to several previous games but had eight assists to go with eight rebounds and four points and was pressed into more duty on Tuesday than maybe in other games. Aaron Craft picked up two quick fouls in the first six minutes of the game and was forced to watch the remainder of the half from the bench while Scott expanded a one-point Ohio State lead before he entered the game to a ten point halftime lead.
"I think we came out today and were a lot more focused," Scott said. "We weren't joking around like we were last time and we knew that we had to have this win."
Thomas was quick to point out his teammates play before talking about his own exploits.
"Shannon came in and controlled the tempo and played his game," Thomas said. "He made the right passes when Aaron went down and Shannon stepped up. Craft came in during the second half and it was all his show."
Craft had 13 of his 15 points in the second half and shot a blistering 6-7 from the field. Evan Ravenel had 11 points off of the bench as the Ohio State bench scored 21 points on the night.
"I really thought they did a good job of comprehending everything they needed to do from offensive game plan to scouting defensively and did a real nice job with that," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after the game.
Purdue was paced Terone Johnson had his 18 points while A.J. Hammons had 13 points, mostly in the paint and Ronnie Johnson had 11. The Boilermakers would not go away and the Buckeyes would get the lead up to 12-14 points only to see a feisty Purdue team chip away on several runs in the second half.
"We would get it up to 12 and they would get it to seven," Matta said. " We had an element of composure about us, that we had to have because of the environment and the crowd… they handled that well."
Thomas had a group of 20 friends and family behind the Ohio State bench and the Fort Wayne (Ind.) native was happy to put on a show for his fans and for his detractors.
"It feels great to come back home and put on a show for the fans and show them how hard I work in the off-season and the Indiana Mr. Basketball is still in effect," Thomas said.
The Buckeyes are not out of the woods yet with a home game against Michigan and then a road game against Michigan State up for the next two contests.
"We are three games into the Big Ten season and we have got a lot of basketball to play, we can enjoy this tonight but we have got to find a way to get better coming into tomorrow," Craft said.