College Basketball

Purdue’s rally falls short, but Williams foreshadows massive March mismatch

INDIANAPOLS (WISH) — Can we petition the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to put Purdue and Ohio State back together for a fourth meeting this season?

The big dance deserves more of the drama that the Purdue-dominated crowd took in Thursday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Yes, a talented Ohio State team, without its hot hand Kyle Young (17 points) outplayed the Boilers in overtime to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday.

But, the 87-78 final score doesn’t tell half the story.

There is a March menace emerging before us, and it’s not the 7-foot-4, two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Zach Edey (11 points); not the future sure-fire NBA wing Jaden Ivey (19 points).

It’s the forgotten freshman who has transformed mind, body and soul over three seasons in West Lafayette.

Trevion Williams proved on Thursday that the team who wishes to send Purdue home this month will have to come knocking on his door first.

Leading an 18-point second half comeback, Williams dazzled with a game-high 26 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. 

With the Buckeyes’ Young in the locker room after taking an inadvertent elbow from Williams, and E.J. Liddell limited with foul trouble the Purdue junior center feasted in the post. 

Despite three key buckets late to force overtime, Ohio State’s sharpshooting from long distance returned in the extra session. Duane Washington Jr. nailed the dagger and the Buckeyes now begin to look ahead to No. 1 seed Michigan at 1 p.m. EST Saturday. 

“Purdue is a phenomenal team; they are tough,” Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann said postgame. “I think they are really good. Really well coached, physical, and to do this is a great testament to our team.”

“We had some shots and some plays around the rim, and we just didn’t finish like we were finishing in the second half,” Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter said. “We made more plays in the second half, Ohio State made more plays in the first half, and then in the overtime obviously we needed to make more plays.”

Purdue now waits at least one week until its NCAA tournament first-round matchup, and the team will spend the first portion back on campus before returning to Indianapolis and entering the NCAA’s controlled environment. 

“This is a lesson learned, and I think a lot of guys, a lot of teams in our situation would hang their heads,” Williams said. “I’m trying to do my best to keep guys motivated, keep guys ready for the tournament.”

“We just don’t want this feeling again and we played a great team, but I feel like we should have won this game,” Ivey said. “We have to just step up, we’ve just got to win, we can’t take no more (losses) in the tournament. That’s it.”

It appears the Boilers are destined for a No. 4 or No. 5 seed on Selection Sunday. Either way, it is clear Matt Painter has the pieces to advance past the opening weekend.