Five Things We Learned in a Workman-like Win Over Purdue
By John Porentas
1) Maturity matters, especially at crunch time. There comes a time in every basketball GAME when one team or another can simply will its way to victory. In OSU"s recent losses, it came with about 8:00 left to play. The common theme in all those losses was a lead at that point, followed by a collapse. Likewise in their recent wins, that same 8:00 minute mark has been crucial. It was no different against Purdue. The Boilermakers pulled within three with about eight minutes to go. At that point, one team wilted, the other didn't. Since the game ended up an 18 point OSU win, you can guess which team did the wilting and which didn't. Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter pointed to his young team's immaturity as a reason for that. Maturity comes with age, but also with experience. OSU's losses earlier this year may have been just the experience they needed to find the maturity that enables them to win a game.
2) Amir had a good night. Williams played with good energy throughout the game. He scored nine points for a solid offensive performance and grabbed five rebounds. Where he was most effective, however, was at the defensive end. He had three blocks, but more importantly, did a great job guarding Purdue center A. J. Hammons. The seven footer came into the game averaging 14.3 points per game on 51 percent shooting in Big Ten play while grabbing an average of 8.1 rebounds per game. Purdue came into the game with the intention of pounding it into Hammons whenever they could. Amir held him to below his averages with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Most importantly, he took away what the Purdue staff thought would be an advantage and made Purdue look elsewhere for their offense.
3) Lenzelle is starting to look like he's back. When Lenzelle makes shots the Buckeyes are a very different team. Against the Boilermakers he was 6-10 including 4 of 7 from three for 16 points. LaQuinton Ross claimed OSU's scoring honors with 17, but there's no doubt that Smith's 16 were crucial to OSU's win. Ross is pretty much always going to score. When Smith can add to Ross' output, the Buckeye offense is much, much more effective. Lenzelle's demeanor both during and after the game leadmade you think that his funk is over and he's back.
4) Mistakes are costly in Big Ten Play. Purdue made mistakes, the Buckeyes didn't. The Boilermakers committed 15 turnovers, many of them in the second half unforced. OSU meanwhile committed just seven. The result was the Buckeyes scoring 18 point off turnovers, the Boilermakers just six. It doesn't matter what your shooting percentage is if you fail to get up a shot on a possession. Turnovers rob teams of scoring opportunities. Empty possessions lead to losses.
5) People are interested in Aaron Craft's mouthpiece. Sounds weird, doesn't it, but that seems to be the case. During one of the breaks there was a presentation on the scoreboard matrix board that featured Craft's mouthpiece. There were a bunch of images of him with his mouthpiece hanging out of his mouth, in his hand, behind his ear, etc. Those images were interspersed with comments from his teammates about how nasty and filthy his mouthpiece is. They accused him of keeping it in his sock, his shoe, picking it up off the floor and popping it back in his mouth, all sorts of things. It was very funny and the crowd really got into it. Craft had the final say when he defended his mouth-piece habits with a statement to the effect that real men don't coddle their mouthpiece. The presentation ended with the video of Thad Matta losing his chewing gum onto the floor, picking it up, and putting it back in his mouth. The crowd roared in laugher.
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