Ohio State shocks No. 2 Purdue, celebrates signature win

Value City Arena was empty about three hours before Sunday’s game with No. 2 Purdue save for a specific section of the court.

From near midcourt toward the tunnel leading into the area housing the visitors’ locker room, roughly two dozen scarlet-clad ushers and arena personnel went over their game plan for the afternoon. They were ready, should a reeling Ohio State team knock off Big Ten-leading Purdue, to get Zach Edey and his teammates off the court with as little incident as possible.

Sunday afternoon, practice made perfect. Four days after athletic director Gene Smith fired coach Chris Holtmann, interim coach Jake Diebler and the Buckeyes notched their most impressive win of the season by taking down the Boilermakers 73-69 inside an arena that was nearly packed.

Ohio State players celebrate as fans storm the court following Sunday's win over Purdue.

The win is Ohio State’s first against a top-five team since it beat No. 1 Duke on Nov. 30, 2021. The Buckeyes had lost three straight such games since then, each of them to Purdue.

Ohio State (15-11, 5-10 Big Ten) led for the final 22:28 against Purdue (23-3, 12-3). The Buckeyes had lost nine of their past 11 games while Purdue boasted the nation’s fifth-longest active win streak at nine.

Ohio State interim coach Jake Diebler yells from the bench during Sunday's win over Purdue.

Purdue tied it at 65-all on a Lance Jones 3-pointer with 1:39 left, but Jamison Battle reclaimed the lead on a jumper in the paint and after Zed Key stripped Edey, Battle drew a foul and hit two free throws with 34.1 seconds left to extend his streak without misses to 36.

Ohio State guard Roddy Gayle Jr. dunks against Purdue on Sunday.

That four-point lead was enough. Ohio State outscored Purdue 22-7 in points off turnovers as Key grabbed a career-high five steals.

As the final horn sounded, the fans did storm the court. They bounced to “Seven Nation Army” and sang out “Sweet Caroline,” with fans yelling at Diebler, “That’s my coach!” as he made his way to the locker room with a smile on his face.

Ohio State guard Roddy Gayle Jr. reacts after dunking against Purdue on Sunday.

“He was excited, man,” guard Bruce Thornton said of Diebler. “His hands were shaking at the first media timeout.”

The Buckeyes pulled out all the stops. Instead of throwing out T-shirts to “the loudest fans” in the arena, as is tradition, Ohio State put program legend Aaron Craft on the scoreboard, and he pumped up the crowd just before tipoff. During a first-half timeout, 2022 first-round NBA pick Malaki Branham was recognized, and he gave Diebler a hug before heading into the stands.

Ohio State Buckeyes guard Dale Bonner scores against Purdue on Sunday.

The capper came during the final media timeout of the half, with Purdue leading 28-25. As “One Shining Moment” played over the speakers, Ohio State tacitly recognized the 1998-99 team whose Final Four appearance was vacated due to NCAA violations. The loudest applause at the end came for Scoonie Penn, who upon his arrival at the arena told The Dispatch that Ohio State would win Sunday.

First appeared on www.dispatch.com

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