Purdue’s surge toward the top of the Big Ten standings is partially due to its strong play on the road. The Boilermakers, though, haven’t had success at Ohio State in more than a decade.
No. 12 Purdue seeks its seventh consecutive victory overall Tuesday night, when it also tries to avoid a ninth straight road loss to the Buckeyes.
Since an 0-2 start in the Big Ten that included a 67-64 loss at Penn State on Jan. 6, Purdue (17-4, 6-2) has been perfect in league play.
The Boilermakers, one-half game back of league leader and 13th-ranked Michigan State, closed January with a 67-49 home win over Michigan on Saturday. They’ll try for a fourth consecutive road victory when they visit Ohio State (15-5, 5-4) - a place that has not been kind to them.
Purdue has not won in Columbus since a 107-75 rout of the Buckeyes on Feb. 7, 1998, and has dropped 14 of the last 16 meetings overall between the schools.
The Boilermakers, though, have played well in other hostile Big Ten environments this season.
They went 6-for-11 from 3-point range in a 70-62 win at then-No. 21 Minnesota on Jan. 22, and got a late 3-pointer from Robbie Hummel to pave the way for a 64-63 victory at Wisconsin last Tuesday.
Purdue also nearly knocked off the Buckeyes in Columbus last March 4, taking the game to overtime before falling 80-77. That’s enough to make Buckeyes coach Thad Matta cautious about this contest.
“We’ve got a tremendous challenge ahead of us,” Matta said.
Purdue reinforced that comment with a dominating second half against Michigan, outscoring the Wolverines 40-20 down the stretch after trailing by a point at halftime.
“I told our guys that this was a gut-check game,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We’ve been in tough, pressure situations before, and I’m proud of my guys.”’
Sophomore guard E’Twaun Moore had 17 points and Hummel added 13 despite being plagued by lingering back spasms. Guard Chris Kramer, meanwhile, returned from a bloody nose to finish with seven points and five steals.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Moore, who’s averaging a team-leading 14.3 points.
Hummel, who failed to reach 10 points in any of his previous three games, had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the March loss at Ohio State. Moore had 16 points and five assists in that contest.
Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who scored 15 points against Purdue in March, is the reigning Big Ten player of the week after posting 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 93-81 victory at Indiana on Saturday.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore swingman is averaging 16.6 points on the season, and 24.0 in his last three games.
Ohio State has won two in a row overall and is 3-1 at home in the Big Ten, with the lone loss a 78-67 defeat to Michigan State on Jan. 25.
The Buckeyes have lost four of their five Big Ten games against ranked opponents this season, beating only then-No. 25 Michigan 65-58 on Jan. 17.