Ohio State Basketball: Bruce Thornton Propels Buckeyes Past No. 2 Purdue

Credit to Ohio State Athletics | Ohio State vs. Purdue 2-18-24

Four days after firing long-time head coach Chris Holtmann, the Ohio State basketball team hosted one of the best teams in the country, the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue, which is led by last season’s National Player of the Year and 7’5 monster Zach Edey, came into this game with an outstanding 23-2 record and ranked second in the nation. Their only losses have come against Northwestern and Nebraska, both on the road. Ohio State, on the other hand, has not had the season they expected.

Interim head coach Jake Diebler was tasked with one of the toughest challenges you could ask an interim coach to have in their first week on the job, beating a top-five ranked team in the country.

Pregame Rush

The energy at the start of the game was electric, with fans of both teams eagerly watching in their seats ready to see the showdown unfold. 18,353 fans of both teams packed into Value City Arena on a Sunday afternoon ready to watch their teams compete. There was a mix of “Boiler Up” chants and “Let’s Go Bucks” chants a half-hour before tip in the 300 sections of the arena.

Purdue fans travel well as during the Boilermakers walk out to the court, they got the loudest ovation in the building. The starting lineups were announced, the flame throwers were put away, the student section was swaying back and forth, and the game was on.


The first few minutes of the contest were controlled by the Boilermakers, Braden Smith kicked it off with a wide-open jumper, followed by a Lance Jones three-pointer and a Trey Kaufman-Renn and-one layup to put Purdue up by eight early. Bruce Thornton was the X-Factor early for the Buckeyes, scoring the team’s first eight points up until the first TV timeout. Zed Key entered the game and hit a huge three-pointer to shift the momentum to Ohio State.

Purdue and Ohio State continued to trade blows on both ends of the court until the five-minute mark when a Zed Key jumper kickstarted a 12-2 Buckeye run that saw true freshman Austin Parks score his first career collegiate basket before Matt Painter called a timeout. The timeout stopped the Ohio State offense for a brief period until Devin Royal made a layup to extend the lead by five at halftime.

The second half is where Jamison Battle took the game over. He sat the majority of the first half due to foul trouble, but when he was given the green light to start shooting threes, he let them rip. He made a jumper early which kept the Buckeye lead at five, followed by a Zed Key throw down, capped off by his famous “raise-the-roof” celebration.

Battle went on to hit three 3-pointers in the span of ninety seconds to extend the Ohio State’s lead to twelve. Purdue started to claw their way back, cutting the lead to seven. After an Edey dunk, graduate senior Dale Bonner was able to tack on four points heading into a Buckeye timeout with twelve minutes to go in the game.

The Ohio State basketball team has struggled this season to maintain their leads going into the later stages of games. Purdue went on an 8-2 run to cut the Buckeye lead back to five. Then, Dale Bonner came up clutch once again as he hit a huge 3-pointer to push the lead to seven with four minutes remaining in the ball game.

Purdue would not back down as they went on a 7-0 run in a span of two minutes to tie the game at 65 with a minute and a half remaining. Jamison Battle helped the Buckeyes take the lead back with a jumper and two free throws to return the lead to four with 34 seconds left. Edey was able to collect a Mason Gillis missed a layup and cut the lead to two points with 17 seconds left.

Bruce Thornton who had a quiet second half was sent to the line needing to make both shots to almost guarantee an Ohio State victory. He was able to connect with both free throws and put the Buckeyes up 71-67 with eight seconds remaining. Braden Smith got a quick layup with three seconds left before Fletcher Loyer fouled Jamison Battle to seal the game for the Buckeyes.

For the first time since 2021, Buckeye Nation was able to storm the court and celebrate a top-five victory. The fans were excited, the players felt the energy, and Value City Arena was the loudest it has ever been. Interim Head Coach Jake Diebler was seen visibly emotional over the victory as he is now 3-0 as an Interim Head Coach in his career at Ohio State.

This win puts the Buckeyes at a 15-11 record with a matchup on the road against Minnesota on Thursday that could help determine the outlook on Ohio State’s season.