The First Round of the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament begins two months from today.
Tuesday night at Value City Arena, Ohio State fans dealt with the same heart-stopping moments that they hope they'll experience in March. It's exactly the kind of game that can prepare a team for tournament time.
Ohio State and Purdue entered as two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and played a classic Big Ten contest.
With the game tied at 64-64, Purdue freshman Jaden Ivey nailed a 3-ball from the top of the arc with five seconds left to give them the lead.
The Boilermakers alertly fouled Ohio State guard Duane Washington and sent him to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 with 2.4 seconds to go.
Washington hit the first and had to intentionally miss the second to give the Buckeyes a chance to tie, but the ball ricocheted towards the corner and Ohio State never got a shot off. Purdue trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but pulled off the comeback on the road with a 67-65 win.
The Boilers hit each of their last five shots from the field to help their comeback bid.
Washington led the Buckeyes with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including six 3-pointers. Justin Ahrens scored 12 points and E.J. Liddell added 11.
The first half was full of big swings for the Ohio State offense. They had a couple of really hot stretches, but a few where things went ice cold. Because Purdue guards the paint so closely and tends to allow looks from beyond the arc, Ohio State took 22 3-pointers in the first half.
By contrast, they took 21 all game against Illinois last Saturday.
Good news for the Scarlet and Gray: they were feeling it in that first 20 minutes, connecting on nine of those triple-tries. Duane Washington had four of them himself in the first half.
In fact, they were so reliant on the 3-ball in the first half that they only made two first half 2-point shots, the first of which didn't come until the 7:29 mark.
But while Purdue trailed at one point 35-24, they quickly cut it to a 5-point game.
The second half felt like a more prototypical Big Ten slugfest.
Frankly both teams were a bit flat in the second half. Ohio State hit just 4-of-13 to start the half, but maintained a 48-43 lead with 11:12 to play.
For the first 13 minutes, neither team shot it particularly well and there were lots of whistles. Ohio State never led by more than eight, but never by less than three points. The teams committed 16 fouls in 12 minutes.
But those forgettable minutes quickly turned tense.
Purdue ripped off seven quick points to take the lead, but Seth Towns buried a 3-ball to put the Buckeyes back out front 53-52 with six minutes to go.
Two minutes and a few traded baskets later, Duane Washington canned a 3-pointer with 3:29 to play to put the Buckeyes up six. But it was quickly answered by a Purdue triple from Jaden Ivey, cutting the Buckeye lead to 60-57 with 2:54 to play.
Shortly thereafter, E.J. Liddell was fouled under the basket, which knocked Mason Gillis out of the game. Liddell hit his first free throw, but missed the second. However, an offensive rebound and kick out to Justin Ahrens for a 3-ball gave the Scarlet and Gray a 64-59 lead.
Purdue freshman Jaden Ivey hit another big bucket quickly on the other end to cut it to one possession game.
After a stop and a 3-ball from Sasha Stefanovic that tied the game at 64-64, Ohio State called timeout with 33 seconds to play.
That's when Ivey connected on the game-winning 3-pointer than snapped Ohio State's 3-game winning streak.
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