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Ohio State 63, Purdue 61

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INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue guard Terone Johnson’s bid for a game-winning 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired and No. 24 Ohio State escaped with a 63-61 Big Ten tournament victory on Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (24-8) struggled to put away a pesky Purdue team that trailed by just one point at 61-60 after center A.J. Hammons’ layup with 18 seconds to play.

But free throws by guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith 12 seconds apart gave the Buckeyes what proved to be the winning points.

Forward LaQuinton Ross collected 19 points and 15 rebounds and Craft added 16 points for defending Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State.

Hammons led a balanced attack with 15 points, guard Ronnie Johnson had 12 while Terone Johnson and guard Kendall Stephens each added 10 for No. 12 seed Purdue (15-18).

Purdue trailed 63-60 before Ronnie Johnson hit a free throw with two seconds showing, missed the second and the Boilermakers claimed possession as the ball went out of bounds off Ohio State. A lengthy official review confirmed the call, allowing the Boilermakers one more shot.

It was a wild end to a game that featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes.

Ohio State, which beat Wisconsin 50-43 in the 2013 Big Ten title game in Chicago, faces No. 4 seed Nebraska in a second-round matchup at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET Friday.

The Boilermakers and Buckeyes were locked in a nip-and-tuck game through much of the first half with six ties and five lead changes.

Ohio State briefly broke away on Smith’s 3-pointer with 4:11 left followed by forward Sam Thompson’s jumper 32 seconds later that gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of the game at 26-19.

Purdue pushed back as guard Kendall Stephens’ jumper and forward Basil Smotherman’s steal and dunk with 50 seconds remaining cut the Ohio State lead to one at 28-27.

A Ross baseline jumper with five seconds left gave the Buckeyes a 30-27 halftime advantage.

Purdue jumped back ahead at 35-34 on Terone Johnson’s 3-pointer with 16:59 left in the game and he added a free throw 34 seconds later for a short-lived two-point Boilermakers lead.

Neither team took command even after Ohio State broke the 10th and last tie — a 54-54 deadlock with 6:06 to play. The Buckeyes went on a 5-0 run for a 59-54 lead, their largest down the stretch before Purdue scrambled back.

NOTES: Ohio State entered the Big Ten tournament as top defensive team, allowing just 59.1 points per game, an average four points fewer than No. 2 Illinois (62.8 points). … The Buckeyes snapped a two-game losing streak with last Sunday’s 69-67 victory over No. 22 Michigan State. … Ohio State G Aaron Craft, the conference’s career steals leader with 328, was named second-team All-Big Ten as well as conference defensive player of the year earlier this week. … Ohio State moved back into Top 25 ranking this week after briefly dropping out. The Buckeyes were ranked as high as No. 3 this season. … Purdue C A.J. Hammons finished second in Big Ten rebounding (7.7 per game) and with a 10.7-point average. He received honorable mention Big Ten honors by both the coaches and the media. Gs Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson top the Boilermakers with a 12.0 and 10.8 scoring averages, respectively. … Purdue is now 1-3 all time against Ohio State in Big Ten tournament play. The tournament’s 12th seed is now 0-3 in opening-round games.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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