After disturbing losses to Illinois, Kansas, and Duke, Ohio State may have had their statement game of the season. Finally, the Buckeyes showed up in West Lafayette, Indiana and proved that they can play a little basketball.
In Thad Matta’s 100th win as the coach at Ohio State, the Buckeyes beat the Purdue Boilermakers 74-64.
Purdue isn’t much of a team this season, especially with Robbie Hummel no longer in the black and gold, but going into West Lafayette on a Tuesday night on ESPN is certainly no easy task.
The most impressive signs from Tuesday night’s win came on the offensive side of the basketball. DeShaun Thomas, the B1G’s leading scorer, had 22 points of his own on 8-13 shooting. A typical game for Thomas, he continues to show that he is an offensive presence not to be messed with. No matter the game, nor the situation, Thomas gets the job done. The biggest surprises, and definitely the most pleasant, came in the form of Evan Ravenel and Aaron Craft.
Ravenel and Craft have struggled mightily this season, making it that much more exciting to see them return to their normal proficiency. Ravenel had a career night for the Buckeyes scoring 13 points on 6-8 shooting, including 5 boards and 3 on the offensive end. Ravenel could certainly be a more effective player coming off of the bench as opposed to starting, or at least this game has begun to show that. At one point in the game, Ravenel even missed a dunk and immediately returned to the floor and tipped in his own rebound. For Evan, it was just one of those nights, and one of those nights was well deserved.
Aaron Craft has had a forgettable season of his own, looking nothing like the Aaron Craft we have seen during his past few seasons in Columbus. Tonight, Aaron Craft’s performance warmed the hearts of Buckeye fans all over the nation. Finally, Craft was comfortably aggressive. He looked calm and collected on the court. His careful nature when carrying the basketball continued. Finally, Aaron Craft was the player we all know and love.
Craft ended the night with his best line of the season: 15 points, 6-7 shooting, 3-3 from the line, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and one amazing shot that resulted in an and one. After a miserable start to 2013, maybe, just maybe, Craft has found his groove and is ready to lead his team back to the Final Four.
Again, it’s tough to say that Purdue is a great basketball team. It’s tough to say that Ohio State won a difficult game tonight. Whatever the case, Purdue is certainly a legitimate team in the best conference in college basketball. To see the show that Aaron Craft, Evan Ravenel, and DeShaun Thomas put on was truly spectacular. With all of the struggles the Buckeyes have had, maybe they did a little soul-searching. Maybe it was enough with the feeling sorry for themselves, and it was time to go play basketball. With the performance the Ohio State Buckeyes put on Tuesday night, it’s safe to say that something was fixed quickly.