Sunday, February 23, 2003

Boilermakers thumped by Bucks, blasted by Keady

O'Brien gets 350th career victory with upset of Purdue

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier

COLUMBUS - A London-like fog enveloped Ohio State's campus Saturday morning, hanging over Value City Arena like a large gray tent. Taking their cue from this February day's weather, the 24th-ranked Purdue and unranked Ohio State men's basketball teams performed as if neither could find their way through the fog.

In a game neither probably deserved to win, the Buckeyes used a 9-2, game-closing sequence to secure an ugly 52-44 Big Ten Conference victory.

How ugly was it?

Well, it's only the sixth time in coach Gene Keady's 717 games at Purdue that one of his teams has been limited to 44 points or less.

It's the fourth loss in the past five contests and pushes the Boilermakers (16-8, 8-5) two games behind league-leading Michigan with three to play.

An NCAA Tournament berth that appeared certain two weeks ago now may be hanging in the balance.

To make matters worse, Purdue may be without defensive specialist Kenneth Lowe for an indefinite period after the 6-foot-3 junior dislocated his left shoulder with 5:16 remaining in the first half.

Lowe scored eight of the Boilermakers' first 16 points and was 3 of 3 from the field at the time of his injury.

Without their inspirational leader, Purdue spun its offensive wheels throughout the final 25 minutes.

"We're getting outplayed," said Lowe, whose left shoulder was in a sling when he walked out of the locker room. "Ohio State made some key buckets down the stretch, and we didn't.

"I don't know if people's confidence has decreased since we started the Big Ten 7-1. We were rolling, and people had a lot of confidence. Confidence is the key to shooting. If we keep going like this, we aren't going to make the postseason."

Ohio State (13-11, 6-7) used a combined 31 points from starting guards Brent Darby and Sean Connolly as the springboard to victory.

However, this outcome was determined as much by what the Boilermakers failed to do as what the Buckeyes did.

• In what has become an alarming trend for Keady, Purdue post players Matt Kiefer, Ivan Kartelo, Chris Booker and Brett Buscher struggled.

They were a collective 5 of 15 from the field, finishing with 16 points and 16 rebounds. They also were guilty of 10 of the Boilermakers' 17 turnovers against Ohio State's 2-3 zone.

"We didn't execute," said Booker, who had two points, four rebounds and four turnovers in 19 minutes. "We had small mistakes that turned the momentum to them right in the middle of the ballgame.

"Their zone makes it tough for post players to score, just because it is so congested in the lane with so many people down in there. We still had pretty good looks at the basket, but the shots didn't fall."

• After Purdue raced to a 9-3 lead with 16:50 remaining in the first half, the Buckeyes countered with four 3-pointers, including three from Connolly, to take a 15-11 advantage with 10:23 on the clock.

The Boilermakers never led nor pulled even again.

In its four most recent losses - Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan and now Ohio State - Purdue opponents have made 35 of 76 treys (46.1 percent).

• At the same time, the Boilermakers' 3-point shooting has gone south.

"We just couldn't make one," Keady said. "We wanted to get the big guys more shots today, and they couldn't make them. When they did get the ball, they turned it over."

Including Saturday's 4 of 18 from beyond the arc, Purdue has made only 9 of its 46 most recent treys (19.6 percent).

"On the perimeter, we had some good looks - shots that we normally make - but they were going in and coming out," Booker said.

"I remember David Teague taking a good 3 - a wide-open 3 with his feet set - that we expect him to make nine times out of 10. It rolled out on him."

Still, as poorly as the Boilermakers played offensively - their previous season's low was 53 points in a Dec. 21 loss to Arizona State - they trailed only 43-42 after Brandon McKnight's short jumper with 2:15 remaining.

But Darby, who led Ohio State with a game-best 16 points, countered with a full-court driving layup at 1:38, extending the Buckeyes' lead to 45-42.

Darby's field goal began OSU's victory-sealing 9-2 run.

"I'd say we're battling confidence right now," said McKnight, who had only two points and two assists in 22 minutes. "We've lost a couple of games we should have won, so everybody is questioning himself instead of just going out and playing their game.

"We missed lots of wide-open shots we normally knock down. We were being patient. We can't complain about that. Lowe got us off to a good start, and then he got hurt. That really killed us."

Purdue is 0-4 in Value City Arena. Saturday's eight-point deficit is as close as the Boilermakers have come to victory in this five-year-old venue.

But the way Purdue views it, the margin may as well have been 80.

"We wanted to be patient," Keady said. "We would get it down to one or two points and take a bad shot or a quick shot.

"We're back to the scenario of not learning how to win games. We're trying to do something spectacular, and we are not a spectacular team. We're an average team that needs to play hard."

PURDUE (16-8)-Lowe 3-3 0-1 8, Kiefer 2-6 1-1 5, Kartelo 1-1 3-4 5, Deane 4-12 4-4 13, McKnight 1-5 0-0 2, Teague 2-11 0-0 5, Buscher 2-5 0-0 4, Parkinson 0-0 0-0 0, Buckley 0-3 0-0 0, Booker 0-3 2-2 2, Kilgore 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-51 10-12 44.

OHIO ST. (13-11)-Williams 4-6 0-0 8, Radinovic 0-3 0-2 0, Connolly 5-7 0-0 15, Darby 5-17 5-6 16, Jernigan 1-2 0-0 2, Bass 0-0 0-0 0, Salley 0-0 0-0 0, Sylvester 5-9 0-0 11, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0. 20-44 5-8 52.

Halftime-Ohio St. 23-20. 3-point goals-Purdue 4-18 (Lowe 2-2, Deane 1-6, Teague 1-6, Kiefer 0-1, Kilgore 0-1, Buckley 0-2), Ohio St. 7-15 (Connolly 5-7, Sylvester 1-2, Darby 1-5, Jernigan 0-1). Fouled out-Kiefer. Rebounds-Purdue 31 (Kiefer, Kartelo, Deane, Teague 5), Ohio St. 29 (Radinovic 9). Assists-Purdue 9 (Parkinson 4), Ohio St. 13 (Darby 6). Total fouls-Purdue 15, Ohio St. 13. A-18,032.

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