David Lighty said of Moore. “He couldn’t miss from three. He would bobble the ball, get it back and hit a three coming off screens. He had a great game.”
The senior said the key to trying to stop Moore was simply getting back to what OSU hangs its hat on: dictating the tempo.
“They had us on our heels the whole game,” he said. “We weren’t in our usual flow on the defensive end. We weren’t communicating and switching or talking and calling out screens and he was getting good looks.”
The loss marks the second in three games for the Buckeyes, who dropped a road contest to the Badgers eight days earlier. Each of the nation’s top four teams in the Associated Press poll has now suffered a loss this week for the first time since the 2003 season.
After the loss to the Badgers, Matta said his players lacked the necessary toughness in that game. Today, he repeated a similar mantra.
“We just weren’t tough enough,” freshman forward Jared Sullinger said. “E’Twaun went for – in (Matta’s) words – 60 (points). We have to do a better job on the defensive end.”
As a team, OSU shot just 27.3 percent (6 for 22) in the second half after trailing by four at the break. The Buckeyes scored 17 of their 30 points in that half from the charity stripe and kept themselves in position for the comeback until the Moore trey.
After the Boilermakers opened a 10-point lead about eight minutes into the second half, OSU scored 13 of its next 15 points courtesy of the free-throw line. In the process, the score went from a 54-44 Purdue lead to 65-61 when Moore hit his three-pointer.
Sullinger, junior guard William Buford, freshman Aaron Craft and senior Jon Diebler combined to hit on all 18 of their attempts. However, Lighty was just 5 of 10 and freshman Deshaun Thomas missed one attempt to set OSU’s mark at 79.3 percent (23 for 29). Purdue, conversely, was 13 for 18 (72.2 percent) and whistled for 23 fouls compared to 17 for the Buckeyes.
Sullinger – who was serenaded by the Purdue student section with a rendition of the Miley Cyrus hit “Party in the U.S.A.” during one trip to the free-throw line – finished with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting but got little help from a key cast of supporting characters. Lighty, Buford and Thomas combined to go 3 of 20 from the floor as they finished with 10, seven and no points, respectively.
“One of the big problems today was when you look at Dave and Will and Deshaun,” Matta said. “It’s not their fault that we didn’t win, but we need to make a few of those shots.”
A Craft jumper with 4:46 remaining in the first half gave the Buckeyes a 28-24 lead, but the rest of the half belonged to Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore. The senior accounted for his team’s final 13 points as the Boilermakers headed to the break with a 37-33 lead.
The key basket gave the home team the lead and produced a deafening response from the crowd. After a turnover by OSU’s Jon Diebler, Moore pushed the ball up the right side of the court and drew contact with David Lighty near the basket. As the whistle was blown while Moore was still in the air, he brought the ball back down to his waist and flipped it off the glass and through the rim from there.
The basket made it a 29-28 Purdue lead, and OSU would never lead again.
Buford picked up fouls on back-to-back possessions and sat after being whistled for his second just 2:46 into the contest. He immediately headed to the bench but returned to action with 9:40 remaining and his team trailing 16-15. Two possessions later he drew a foul, hit the ensuing free throws and promptly retreated to the bench once again.
He would come back shortly thereafter and had a three-pointer that hit the front of the rim, bounced high in the air and fell through to give his team the lead at 20-19 with 7:38 remaining. He finished the half with those five points in eight minutes.
Making matters worse for the Buckeyes was Sullinger, who picked up his second foul with 5:02 remaining and sat for the rest of the way. His 12 points led the team at the break as the only Buckeye in double figures.
Purdue, meanwhile, got 18 from Moore as he hit on 7 of 10 from the field and 10 points from senior JaJuan Johnson.
With Buford and Sullinger sidelined, OSU struggled down the stretch. Lighty and Thomas combined to go 1 for 9 from the floor in the half with Lighty’s trey in the final minute the lone basket from the pair.
Diebler broke the Big Ten career record for three-pointers in the loss. His 2 for 4 performance gave him 333 for his career, surpassing Penn State’s Pete Lisicky (1994-98). Michigan’s Louis Bullock hit 339 from 1996-96 but his record is not recognized because a number of those games have been vacated by the NCAA.
He finished with 11 points.