CHICAGO (WCMH) — Ohio State’s upset run in the Big Ten Tournament came to end on Saturday as the top-seed Purdue Boilermakers beat the Buckeyes 80-66 in the semifinals.
After a fast first-half that included a 16-point performance from guard Roddy Gayle Jr., Ohio State could not stop Purdue’s superstar center Zach Edey, who scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
With a 16-19 record, the Buckeyes will more than likely not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017. The next question is if Ohio State could earn a bid in the National Invitation Tournament after an impressive run of three wins and one loss in Chicago.
The Buckeyes entered the under-16 timeout down just two and kept up high energy in the early parts of the game. Buckeyes center Felix Okpara scored six of Ohio State’s first ten points as both teams’ offenses looked in form in the first half.
Freshman guard Roddy Gayle Jr. stayed hot after a 15-point outing against Michigan State with 10 points in the first eight minutes on Saturday. He hit his first three triples in the game as Ohio State shot 66% to lead 21-19 at the under-12 timeout. Only seven of the first 23 shots between the two teams were not made.
Gayle came out firing after the timeout with his fourth three-pointer while his teammate Justice Sueing added his second of the game to give OSU a six-point lead at the under-8 timeout. Purdue began to chip away as 7’4″ center Zach Edey began to use his height for easy buckets in the paint while OSU entered a three-minute scoring drought. This cut the Buckeye lead to two at the under-four timeout.
Multiple Buckeye starters got into foul trouble early with Eugene Brown III having three, including a flagrant 1, while Felix Okpara and Isaac Likelike got two each. The Boilermakers took advantage and ended the first half on a 9-0 run and a 42-34 lead. OSU ended the first 20 minutes with a three minute scoring drought despite 16 first half points from Gayle.
Purdue kept up the pressure in the second half as they increased their lead to 11 early on. OSU were unable to start the second half offensively as hot as the first. They also could not stop Edey who reached 23 points and seven rebounds with 10:19 left, giving Purdue a 14-point lead and taking the Buckeyes out of the game.
Ohio State got a decent stretch late in the first-half to cut its deficit to single digits but failed to stop Edey and generate a late run to get themselves within reach.
Purdue will play the winner of Penn State vs. Indiana in the Big Ten title game on Sunday afternoon. The Boilermakers will then likely be placed as a No. 1 seed on Sunday in the March Madness bracket.