Ohio State escaped with an opening-round win over Purdue on Thursday as the No. 24 Buckeyes held off the Boilermakers, 63-61, in Indianapolis.
The No. 5 seed Buckeyes needed stops on its final two defensive possessions to secure victory over No. 12 seed Purdue.
Leading, 62-60, with under 10 seconds remaining, Ohio State senior Lenzelle Smith Jr., stole the ball on a botched dribble hand-off between Purdue guards — and brothers — Ronnie and Terone Johnson.
Smith (nine points) knocked down one of two free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining to give Ohio State a 63-60 lead and the Buckeyes opted to foul Ronnie Johnson (12 points) with 2.8 seconds left to prevent a tying three-point attempt.
Johnson made the first free throw attempt and his purposely-missed second free throw attempt was knocked out of bounds by the Buckeyes’ Smith with 1.6 seconds left. Purdue guard Terone Johnson (10 points) had a three-point attempt from the left wing on the final shot for the win, but it went off the back iron and missed.
LaQuinton Ross led the Buckeyes with 19 points and 15 rebounds in a monster effort for the junior wing, while senior guard Aaron Craft added 16 points, five assists and three steals, including a critical steal with under a minute remaining to extend an Ohio State possession that led to foul and two Smith free throws when the Buckeyes led by a point.
No. 12 seed Purdue (15-17) had four players in double-figures, led by sophomore center A.J. Hammons, who finished with 15 points.
Ohio State (24-8) advances to face No. 4 seed Nebraska in the second game of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday.