Over the years, the Purdue Boilermakers and Ohio State Buckeyes have had a long and memorable rivalry on the basketball court. In fact, these two programs couldn't be much closer historically: Purdue leads the all-time series after last week's victory by the thinnest of margins, 82-81.
The toughness and determination both squads have exhibited throughout the decades is personified in their current leaders, Ohio State's Player of the Year candidate Evan Turner and Purdue's veteran defensive stopper Chris Kramer.
With Turner providing the bulk of his team's offense (as both the point guard and the leading scorer) and Kramer often drawing the responsibility of trying to slow the talented junior down, these athletes have had their share of hardwood encounters over the past few seasons.
And with the Big Ten Tournament still to come, it's possible Kramer and Turner could face off one more time...with the bulletin-board quote of the year hanging over the game.
What was that? You missed it? You haven't heard THE quote? You mean you don't have a Twitter account yet?
Well, let me explain.
First, a history lesson...as we look back at the teams' meetings the past couple of seasons (since Turner has really come into his own)...and then a short analysis of how the Kramer-Turner (and Purdue-Ohio State) rivalry crossed over from hardwood to cyberspace.
While Kramer and Turner faced off in the 2007-08 season (Turner's first as a member of the Buckeyes), the rivalry really heated up during this overtime OSU win in Columbus.
Turner was on his way to a breakout sophomore season, doubling his scoring average from 8.5 points per game as a freshman to a league-high 17.3, while Kramer entered his junior campaign as the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
In an epic duel at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes' sharpshooter played all 45 minutes en route to posting a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
Kramer played 42 minutes for the Boilermakers before fouling out, but Purdue's defense couldn't slow down Turner and the high-powered offensive attack of the home team: OSU drained over 60 percent of their field goals in the contest.
Later in February, the Boilermakers got revenge for their overtime defeat in Columbus, posting a one-sided 75-50 blowout win in Mackey Arena. Although the halftime margin was only six points, Purdue steadily increased its lead through the final twenty minutes of play.
Kramer made things miserable for Turner the second time around, holding Ohio State's star to 14 points in 35 minutes. This time, it was Turner that fouled out of the game, although the outcome was well past decided at that point.
Purdue's defense made a statement at home, holding the visitors to only 43.8 percent from the floor. Getting Robbie Hummel back in the lineup for this one (after he missed the game in Columbus with a back injury) didn't hurt either.
It was only fitting that the rubber match between the league's best offensive player and best defensive player come in the Big Ten Tournament championship game...and that's what happened in March 2009 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Boilermakers prevailed 65-61 in a nail-biter to win their first Big Ten Tournament championship...and did so despite an impressive game from Evan Turner.
Turner seemed unstoppable for most of the afternoon, pouring in 22 points and adding 10 rebounds for the Buckeyes in a losing cause.
Kramer and the other Purdue defenders were unable to keep Turner from getting to the basket at will, and the OSU swingman's dribble drives kept the Buckeyes in the game all the way until the final minute.
Robbie Hummel was the first-half story at Mackey Arena...
...but Evan Turner still captured the headlines.
Hummel poured in 29 points before intermission, drilling eight first-half three-pointers to spark the Boilermakers to a 12-point lead at the break, but it wasn't enough. When the final buzzer sounded, Ohio State had rallied for a 70-66 comeback win behind their star point guard.
Turner finished with a career-high 32 points, 23 of which came in the second half, and hit more than 50% of his field goal attempts en route to propelling his team to a crucial road victory.
The game marked the second straight meeting where Purdue didn't seem to have a defensive answer for the Buckeyes' top scorer, and this time it came back to bite them.
Turner's mid-range jumpers, spin moves, and ability to get to the foul line thrust the Ohio State playmaker into the national Player of the Year discussion and spoiled fellow junior Hummel's career performance in the process.
Purdue had never won in Ohio State's Value City Arena before the teams' most recent showdown, but the Boilermakers were enjoying their highest ranking in recent memory (No. 4 in both polls).
The prospect of knocking off Turner and his Top-10 ballclub in Columbus was a big-time challenge for Kramer and the Boilermakers, but when the dust had settled...
...Turner won the battle and the Boilermakers won the war.
The Boilermakers escaped Columbus with a hard-fought 60-57 victory despite another monster game from Turner, who played all 40 minutes and racked up 29 points.
Purdue tried to use different defenders on the Ohio State star in an attempt to wear Turner down before crunch time, shadowing him with a rotation of Kelsey Barlow, Keaton Grant, and Lewis Jackson, but Turner was able to get to the rim against all of them.
The Boilers finally switched Kramer onto Turner defensively in the final few minutes, and this time, Purdue's stopper was equal to the challenge.
Kramer was everywhere in the waning moments of the game, including a highlight reel-block of William Buford in the final few seconds, and the Boilers escaped with their first victory in what had long been a house of horrors for the Old Gold and Black.
The Kramer-Turner rivalry has been one of the Big Ten's finest over the past few seasons. In all, Purdue has won four of the teams' seven meetings with each club posting one road victory and the Boilers taking the neutral-site clash in the 2009 Big Ten Tournament final.
Despite the Boilermakers' slight 4-3 edge over Turner's club, no one can argue the fact that the Ohio State junior has dominated the Purdue defense in recent memory: Turner averaged 24.6 points against Purdue's normally-stingy defense in the ballclubs' last five matchups.
And that brings us to Turner's latest Twitter post, a seemingly unprovoked comment about the defensive abilities of Purdue's best stopper.
Turner's tweet looked like this:
reason why chris kramer doesnt guard the other team's best player anymore is because he cant lol.
According to Turner, his comments about Kramer are nothing he hasn't said to his opponent's face several times before and were merely a response to a television commentator's analysis (about why Purdue didn't put Kramer on the other team's best player until the end of the game).
Maybe Turner should get the benefit of the doubt.
After all, he HAS been unstoppable against Purdue's defense, whether it be Kramer or any other Boilermaker that's drawn the assignment.
And after watching the most recent Purdue-Ohio State showdown, it looks like Matt Painter has indeed gone away from the "all Kramer, all the time" approach to slowing down opposing stars (see Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, 2008 for a prime example of Kramer's sole defensive prowess).
But when a student-athlete decides to celebrate a victory over Michigan State (less than 24 hours later), by taunting a different team's best player over the Internet, three things are for sure.
No. 1: That Twitter quote will be printed in large, extra bold letters in the Boilermaker locker room by the end of the week.
No. 2: Purdue really, really wants a rematch with the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament to settle the score once and for all.
Oh, and No. 3...
...should Purdue and Ohio State square off one final time before Chris Kramer graduates...Kramer will be begging his coach for a certain high-profile defensive assignment.
I can hear him now.
"Eat your words, Evan Turner."