Even without the use of his right hand, Ohio State freshman phenom Greg Oden’s free-throw shooting helped his team hang on for a win its last time out.
Oden will now look to help the fourth-ranked Buckeyes earn their sixth straight victory when they visit Purdue on Wednesday.
Oden scored 19 points in Ohio State’s 66-64 win over Michigan State on Saturday. The 7-foot center, who has been shooting free throws left handed while he recuperates from surgery to repair ligament damage in his right wrist, went 8-of-10 from the line in the second half to help the Buckeyes (18-3, 6-1 Big Ten) avoid blowing a 20-point halftime lead.
Oden, who hit a career-best 11 free throws in the game, was coming off a 17-point performance in Ohio State’s 59-50 win at Northwestern three days earlier in which he also grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds. He was named the Big Ten’s player of the week along with Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker.
“He was 82 percent his senior year of high school at the free throw line. It’s amazing watching Greg’s growth in that area,” coach Thad Matta said. “He’s always working his left handed jump hooks and free throw shots after practice.”
Oden did not make his college debut until Dec. 2, when he had 14 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Valparaiso, because of the wrist injury. However, he leads the team with both 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Oden did struggle from the floor against the Spartans, and did not make a field goal after the 13:20 mark of the first half. Purdue coach Matt Painter said he has studied how Michigan State defended Oden and the Buckeyes.
“I don’t think we can quite do everything the same as Michigan State, but we will use bits and pieces from what they did,” he said. “Our personnel is different; we don’t have a lot of big bodies, and that’s not good going up against Greg Oden.”
The Buckeyes have not lost since a 72-69 defeat at then-No. 3 Wisconsin on Jan. 9, but are visiting a Purdue squad that is 12-0 at home this season—its best start on its own court since opening 14-0 in 2002-03.
“We shoot better at home than on the road, the stats will show that,” Painter said. “I think it’s being familiar at home.”
The Boilermakers (14-7, 3-4) have won just two of their last five overall, including Saturday’s 64-47 victory over Illinois. Senior guard David Teague scored 18 of his career-high 28 points in the second half, helping pick up the slack after leading scorer Carl Landry was benched with foul trouble.
Landry, who had 17 points, ranks among the Big Ten’s leaders with 19.1 points per game. He said he was confident that his teammates could step up for him.
“We’ve got good players on this team,” Landry said. “I feel that everybody on this team can score 20 points on any given night, and everybody on this team plays great defense.”
Ohio State has won five straight and 11 of 12 matchups against Purdue, and has taken five of the last six meetings in West Lafayette, Ind.