Well, it happened again. Today's 67-49 loss to Ohio State was eerily similar to Purdue's Dec. 31 matchup with the Buckeyes in Mackey Arena, where the Buckeyes turned two horrible calls by the refs into a snowball that resulted in a 10-2 run that gave Ohio State control of the game.
Today, Purdue was battling with the Buckeyes and had the OSU lead down to three at 48-45 despite just three points from leading scorer Terone Johnson. The Boilers had just gotten those points, gone down and gotten a stop and had a 5-on-4 advantage when Aaron Craft had the type of flop that costs NBA players thousands of dollars, falling after a bump from A.J. Hammons at the elbow. Referee Mike Sanzere, who consistently lets teams get away with almost everything against Hammons (short man jealousy, we'll call it), blew the whistle and called Hammons for his second foul.
The officiating was far from stellar, but what happened next is completely on Purdue.
Over the next seven possessions, Purdue turned the ball over five times and missed a 3-pointer on another possession, allowing the Buckeyes to steamroll to a 19-4 run over the last nine minutes of the game.
It was so bad the Boilers weren't even in a position to foul down the stretch, allowing OSU to wind clock down and even throw in a classy dunk after stealing the ball with less than 40 seconds left in the game.
A.J. Hammons led Purdue's starters with 11 points on 5-of-10 from the field, along with seven rebounds and three blocks. He had five turnovers, including the aforementioned offensive foul, While it's hard to excuse turnovers, the big man did have OSU defenders hanging on his limbs every time he touched the ball, yet still shot just two free throws, his fewest total in five games (the last time being the Wisconsin game, in which he played just 12 minutes).
Raphael Davis was the Boilers' star of the game, if you can have one in a loss. He was 5-for-5 from the field off the bench, going for 11 points, 2 rebounds, a steal and no turnovers. Kendall Stephens led all Boilers with 12 points, but was 4-of-10 from the field, including two "What are you thinking" shots that resulted in OSU fast breaks.
While there can be plenty of complaints about the officiating in this one (Purdue, which forces the ball inside nearly every possession, was called for four more fouls than OSU, a much more jump shot-oriented team), don't confuse my complaints as implying Purdue would have won with a more legitimate officiating effort.
The fact is, Purdue's defenders too often were caught standing and leaving OSU shooters wide open. When the Boilers did close out, they lacked the lateral quickness needed to stay in front of the Buckeye ballhandler, so Ohio State would get to the bucket instead. It really was a lose-lose situation for Purdue, resulting in the Boilers being unable to consistently get stops and put together a run.
Purdue now has a week off to prepare for its next game, where the Boilers host Indiana in the team's only regular-season meeting with the Hoosiers.