Purdue vs. Ohio State: What the Boilermakers Learned Against the Buckeyes

James Evens@JamesEvensCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2012

Purdue vs. Ohio State: What the Boilermakers Learned Against the Buckeyes

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    Purdue basketball gave the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes all they could handle on Super Tuesday, but it just wasn't enough. 

    The Boilermakers dropped their second straight, 84-87, in what was a gutsy performance coming off a loss against Indiana at home. 

    This game was a hard-fought one, and it showed a lot about this team. It looked like a completely different squad in comparison to earlier in the season.

    Here is what we learned against the Buckeyes.  

Kelsey Barlow Is a Dangerous Man When Focused

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    Barlow once again proved why he is on this squad—for his sheer athleticism and raw talent. Barlow may not be able to light up a shooting contest, but he plays stealth defense and has extreme athletic ability.

    The video above should really say everything about his performance tonight. Not many guys can posterize Jared Sullinger, but Barlow did.

    He also played great defense against Aaron Craft and had a great game overall. He shot 5-for-10 from the field for 14 points in addition to three assists and two steals.

    Barlow was possessed tonight, and if he continues this play, he will be regarded as one of the best players in the Big Ten.  

This Team Lives and Dies by the Three-Pointer

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    Purdue is a shooting team. After losing E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson this season, Purdue knew the team was going to have to rely on strong shooting.

    Tonight, Purdue was that team.

    The Boilermakers shot 58 percent from beyond the arc, led by D.J. Byrd with seven.

    When Purdue shoots well and gets off to a quick start, they are a tough team to beat. Tonight, they proved that good shooting and moving to create good shots are the keys to success.  

The Fire Is Still with This Team

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    After some pretty awful performances this season, including a game against Indiana where Matt Painter said, "We looked scared," Purdue showed they have some fight left.

    After many wrote this season off, this team resurged and found a way to hang with a Top 5 team in their house. 

    The fire still burns inside this team, and they played like Boilermakers against the Buckeyes. 

Lack of Size Is Going to Kill This Team in the Foul Column

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    Purdue's lack of size is going to continue hurting them in the foul column throughout the season. It is forcing smaller Purdue players to play bigger roles and be more physical, thus leading to more fouls.

    Tonight, the Boilermakers committed 25 fouls, while Ohio State only committed 16. 

    That being said, in Value Center Arena, the calls were going in the direction of Jared Sullinger most of the night, but don't expect this to change for Purdue. 

D.J. Byrd Is This Team's MVP in Conference Play

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    Sure, Robbie Hummel is going to get a lot of the hype because he is Robbie Hummel, but Byrd has been the MVP of this team in conference play this season. 

    He has been everywhere, flying after every loose ball, and tonight, he flat-out went off.

    Byrd scored 24 points on 8-for-12 from the field—including 7-for-9 from beyond the arc—and collected six rebounds. 

    Besides the obvious stats, Byrd's hustle cannot be measured on paper. 

This Team Is Going to Have to Score Without Hummel

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    Robbie Hummel is beloved. He is adored on campus and by almost every Purdue fan. His effort is great, and the fact he is even playing after breaking his back and tearing his ACL twice is unbelievable, but he needs to take less shots.

    Since he returned from the injury that sidelined him for a year and a half, Hummel's shot has been off. Tonight, he shot just 4-for-13 from the field. 

    In order for Hummel to be successful, he needs to get the ball closer to the basket. And for that to happen, Purdue's other players are going to need to score more. 

Barlow and Byrd Should Start All of the Time

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    D.J. Byrd has really given so much effort in Big Ten play that there was no reason he shouldn't have been starting. Fortunately, he has now clinched that role. Look for Ryne Smith to be starting as well, while Lewis Jackson comes off the bench.

    The point-guard position is such a crucial one. He sets the tone for the team and knows his teammates' tendencies. Lewis Jackson is an excellent point guard, but his injuries have really put a damper on his chemistry with teammates. 

    Look for Kelsey to continue starting this season at the point. 

Offensive Rebounds Are Going to Be Key in Big Moments This Year

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    Once again, Purdue's lack of rebounding destroyed the Boilermakers late in this one. A few second-half offensive rebounds by Jared Sullinger just killed the Boilermakers near the end of the game against the Buckeyes. 

    Ohio State had 11 offensive rebounds tonight, compared to five by the Boilermakers. To win on the road in the Big Ten, Purdue needs to start rebounding with authority. 

The Glue Defense Needs to Be Better Against Elite Shooters

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    Purdue's defense has got to be better on the perimeter. Containing outside shooters should not be an issue for a team with so many defensively talented guards.

    Tonight, it was Buford. Against Northwestern, it could be someone different. 

    Although the perimeter defense needs work, Purdue's defense against drives was impressive. Aaron Craft looked frustrated tonight against Kelsey Barlow and Lewis Jackson. 

This Team Might Be Peaking at the Right Time

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    In the past under Matt Painter, Purdue teams have had great runs in the middle of the season, and then dropped off in the postseason.

    With this team having a midseason crisis of sorts, it looks like they are peaking at the right time. 

    If Purdue can build off this loss to Ohio State, they will be able to do some pretty special things in March. 

    Peaking in March could be key to this team, and hopefully, they'll make it to the only thing meaningful in March.