WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Je’Kel Foster was just too quick for Purdue.
The Ohio State guard tied his career high with six steals, repeatedly leading the 19th-ranked Buckeyes to easy baskets in an 80-64 victory on Wednesday night.
“It was the defense. The coach gave us a halftime speech, more or less to get us motivated on defense, to play harder,” said Foster, who also had 10 points and five rebounds.
“We did a good job of sharing the ball and took some great shots. Fortunately, they fell down for us.”
Ohio State forced 21 turnovers that led to 30 points. Thirteen of Purdue’s errors were steals by the Buckeyes.
“Defense is always the key to the game,” said J.J. Sullinger, who led Ohio State with 17 points. “Our best offense is in transition, and we can only run when we stop them at the other end. Playing the passing lanes the way we did tonight was in our favor and we got some easy baskets from it.”
The six steals by Foster tied his career high set last month against Gardner-Webb.
“You can’t even describe what type of player Je’Kel is,” Sullinger said. “He’s tough, he’s nasty, he’s tenacious on defense. He’s our leader, man.”
The Buckeyes (12-1, 2-1 Big Ten) built a 14-point halftime lead, forced four turnovers by Purdue in the first 2 minutes of the second half and led by as many as 25 points midway through the period. The Boilermakers never came closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
Terence Dials added 13 points for Ohio State, while Matt Sylvester had 10.
“You’ve got to give yourself a chance,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “They shot the ball well. We had a chance, but we turned the ball over. … There’s no doubt we were careless.
“When they have three, four of those (turnovers leading to baskets), that’s not eight points, that’s a 16-point swing,” Painter said.
Matt Kiefer had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Purdue (6-8, 0-3), which lost its first home game of the season and its 11th straight against a ranked opponent. Marcus White added 13 points.
Purdue scored the first basket of the game, but Ohio State went on a 12-0 run, including six points by Sylvester, and turned back every comeback by the Boilermakers with timely 3-pointers. Ohio State was 11-of-22 from behind the arc.
“We did a nice job moving the basketball,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “A couple of those (3-pointers) were pretty deep, to be honest. But to their credit, they found the open guy.”
The Buckeyes hit eight from long range in the first half, including consecutive shots by Foster and Ivan Harris after Purdue pulled within four points midway through the period.
The Boilermakers shot 52 percent and outrebounded Ohio State 16-11 in the first half, but 11 Purdue turnovers led to 16 points for the Buckeyes. The third of three 3-pointers by Sullinger pushed the lead to 40-26 with under 3 minutes to go, and after Purdue scored twice, the Buckeyes’ final baskets of the half were 3-pointers by Ron Lewis.
“We didn’t disrupt anything they were doing,” Painter said.