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Buckeyes stun Purdue

Ohio State forward Devin Royal, right, and forward Zed Key, left, celebrate after Ohio State defeated Purdue in an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

COLUMBUS — Ohio State stunned No. 2 Purdue on Sunday in its interim coach’s debut, winning 73-69 a day after the NCAA Tournament selection committee picked the Boilermakers as the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall seed during March Madness.

Bruce Thornton scored 22 points and Jamison Battle added 19 points to help Ohio State (15-11, 5-10 Big Ten) pull off the upset in Jake Diebler’s first game at the helm.

Chris Holtmann was fired Wednesday after several disappointing seasons. The beleaguered Buckeyes had lost nine of their last eleven games. Purdue (23-3, 12-3) had been favored by 8 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Ohio State fans stormed the court.

“What a resilient group,” said Diebler, who was overcome with emotion when he greeted his family on the crowded court. “We have some great young men in there who came together at a high these last few days in a way that I don’t know if any of us fully anticipated that they could get to in a short amount of time.”

Ohio State played with energy from the start, led 35-30 at the break and six minutes into the second half were up by 12.

With the Boilermakers closing down the stretch, it seemed like only a matter of time until Zach Edey took over the game, but it didn’t happen.

Lance Jones hit a 3-pointer for Purdue to tie the score at 65 with 1:39 left. But Battle hit a jumper and then, with 34 seconds left, hit a pair of free throws to bump the Ohio State lead to 69-65.

An easy dunk by Edey reduced the deficit to two with 16 seconds left. Running out time, the Boilermakers fouled Thornton, who went to the line and made both foul shots.

Edey finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, the 58th career double-double for the Purdue star.

But the Boilermakers turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 22 Ohio State points.

“We just need to take care of the ball,” Edey said. “We outrebounded them. We got more possessions that way, but we can’t let them get on transition. We have to play on a half-court game. … It’s tough to win the game when a team scores 22 points in transition.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter was impressed with how the Buckeyes performed after enduring an emotional week that saw the sacking of their much-loved coach.

“That’s what you don’t know — can you get them down and keep them down, and then like, they go away, which obviously didn’t happen. They win the game,” he said. “So you know, where’s their fight? What’s it going to be. I think they answered that. Their fight was great.”

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: The Boilermakers couldn’t match Ohio State’s energy and were derailed on their way to a desired sweep to finish the Big Ten regular season. They had won nine straight and 16 of 17. Their last loss was Jan. 9.

“We fought hard to be in this position,” Painter said. “When you say you’re going to get everybody’s best shot, you think that’s kind of a folk tale. But you get everybody’s best shot.”

Ohio State: A hard week ended in adulation for the Buckeyes.

“We just went out there, had fun and cut loose,” Battle said.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Rutgers on Thursday night.

Ohio State: Visits Minnesota on Thursday night.

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