Basketball Buckeyes simmer down Boilers in opening game of Big Ten play

Junior forward LaQuinton Ross scored 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead No. 3 Ohio State to a 78-69 over Purdue in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Tuesday afternoon.

 Lenzelle Smith Jr. #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes dribbles the ball in the back court against Rapheal Davis #35 of the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena on December 31, 2013 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ohio State defeated Purdue 78-69. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Lenzelle Smith Jr. #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes dribbles the ball in the back court against Rapheal Davis #35 of the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena on December 31, 2013 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ohio State defeated Purdue 78-69. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

It was a tightly contested ball game in the first 20 minutes as there were nine ties and six lead changes. The Boilers led by as many as five following a layup by Ronnie Johnson made the score 13-8 with 14:05 left in the opening period. The Buckeyes biggest advantage occurred twice with less than five minutes remaining in the half following buckets from senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. both times.

Ohio State led 34-33 at intermission after Smith Jr. scored on a layup just before the buzzer on a nice assist from senior guard Aaron Craft.

The second half was all Buckeyes as the Boilers never led in the final 20 minutes. With the game deadlocked at 46-all with 13:57 to go, Ohio State mounted a mini 6-0 run thanks to a basket by Smith Jr. and two from Ross. From there, Purdue could only get as close as 55-51 after Rapheal Davis’ layup with 9:16 left.

Along with Ross’ 25, two other Buckeyes scored in double figures as junior guard Shannon Scott added 18 points and Smith Jr. finished with 14. Craft tallied seven points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

For the game, Ohio State was 29-of-65 (44.6%) from the field, 4-of-22 (18.2%) from three-point range, and 16-of-24 (66.7%) from the free throw line. Purdue was 28-of-67 (41.8%) from the floor, 3-of-14 (21.4%) from beyond the arc, and 10-of-16 (62.5%) from the charity stripe.

Up next, Ohio State hosts Nebraska on Saturday. Tip-off at Value City Arena in Columbus is scheduled for 12:00 noon ET, and the game will be televised on BTN.