West Lafayette, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - With each side looking to extend a three-game win streak, the 20th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and Purdue Boilermakers meet up in a Big Ten Conference showdown at Mackey Arena on Wednesday.
Ohio State narrowly escaped Northwestern with a 69-67 win to start the three- game win streak, and the Buckeyes handedly took down Maryland, 80-56, Thursday in their most recent clash. Ohio State is 6-3 in conference play on the season, but is just 2-4 in road contests.
Purdue traveled to Northwestern on Saturday, and was able to lay an eight- point defeat on the home squad, 68-60, for the Boilermakers' third straight win. Also at 6-3 in the Big Ten, Purdue sports a healthy 10-3 record at Mackey Arena.
The all-time series between Ohio State and Purdue is about as contentious as they come. The Boilermakers own a slight 83-82 lead over the Buckeyes, and they also lead Ohio State in games played in West Lafayette, 54-26. The teams will meet in Columbus later this season.
Ohio State gained an eight-point lead by the time the initial half was up against Maryland, and the Buckeyes continued to stretch the advantage in the second half thanks to a strong defensive effort. The host Buckeyes held Maryland to just 30.5 percent shooting from the floor in the game, although Ohio State made a dismal 14-of-26 from the free-throw line. Marc Loving netted 19 points to pace his Buckeyes, adding in six rebounds. Freshman sensation D'Angelo Russell tallied a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds with six assists, and Jae'Sean Tate chipped in with 16 points and eight boards.
Russell's sensational campaign continues as the freshman builds his stock for a potential run toward the NBA Draft. He leads Ohio State and ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring per outing, netting 19.4 ppg on 47.7 percent shooting from the floor. His 5.6 rpg is the best on Ohio State, and his 114 assists ranks second on the team to Shannon Scott's 145 helpers. Loving (11.7 ppg) and Sam Thompson (10.0 ppg) round out a trio of double-digit scorers for the Buckeyes, who are second in the Big Ten this season in scoring offense averaging 80.0 ppg. The team is also third in scoring defense in the conference, allowing just 61.6 ppg to opponents.
Northwestern took a one-point lead into the locker room at the intermission on Saturday against Purdue, but the Boilermakers came out firing in the second half behind 48 percent shooting, adding in 15-of-18 from the free-throw line to help take over the lead from the Wildcats. A.J. Hammons tallied 16 points and nine rebounds to pace Purdue in the eight-point win, while Rapheal Davis chipped in with 15 points and seven boards. Jon Octeus scored 14 with seven rebounds of his own, and Isaac Haas rounded out the double-digit scorers for Purdue in the contest with 10 off the bench.
Hammons, who was an instrumental part of Purdue's season in 2013-14, has started to come alive after a slow start to the current campaign. He now leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.0 ppg with a team-best in rebounding at 6.1 boards per outing, chipping in 59 blocked shots (2.7 per game to lead the Big Ten). Davis (10.8 ppg) is the only other Purdue player netting a double-figure scoring total, although Kendall Stephens (9.9 ppg) is close. Purdue's offense is scoring 72.7 ppg, but is giving up 65.0 ppg to opponents on 40.1 percent shooting.