Feb 22, 2003

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Post Game Press Conference Audio
Ohio State Head Coach Jim O’Brien
Purdue Head Coach Gene Keady

AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite No. 24 Purdue’s 52-44 loss at Ohio State on Saturday, Boilermakers coach Gene Keady scoffed at the suggestion his players might be down.

“Why would they be down on themselves?” Keady said during a heated postgame rant. “Send them off to Afghanistan and they’ll get fired up real quick. They’re the luckiest men in the world to have a scholarship to a Big Ten school.”

Keady said it was all a matter of perspective.

“They should be up every second. We’ve got soldiers who are getting ready to go to war,” he said. “It’s ridiculous that they be down. What are they down about?”

Keady said he would not listen to excuses about his team’s two-game losing streak.

“If you’re down, it’s because you’re not a winner,” he said. “Winners don’t get down.”

There might have been more emotion during the postgame interviews than there was in a game that featured 34 turnovers and plenty of missed shots.

Ohio State made just five free throws in the game – all by Brent Darby over the final 44 seconds – but it was enough to keep alive the Buckeyes’ hopes of an NCAA tournament berth.

“We know we’ve got three games left,” said Darby, who led Ohio State (13-11, 6-7 Big Ten) with 16 points. “If we have any aspirations of the NCAA, we have to win out and do something in the Big Ten tournament.” Sean Connolly added 15 points – all on 3-pointers – and Matt Sylvester had 11 for the Buckeyes, who improved to 13-3 against ranked opponents in their five seasons at Value City Arena.

“It keeps us somewhat in the hunt,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said.

Willie Deane had 13 points for Purdue (16-8, 8-5), which lost twice this week to fall out of a tie for first place in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were held 31 points under their average.

“We’re not playing with any enthusiasm,” Keady said. “When you get to March, it’s the fun part of the season.”

The Boilermakers lost starting guard Kenneth Lowe, their second-leading scorer, when he dislocated his left shoulder with 5:16 left in the first half.

Not until Ohio State’s Emonte Jernigan hit a driving layup with 29 seconds left did the teams combine for more field goals than turnovers.

Brandon McKnight’s 15-foot jumper from the right wing with 2:15 left cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 43-42.

Ohio State was faced with having to take the ball out under the Purdue basket with only 8 seconds left on the shot clock on its next possession, but Darby drove from one end of the court to the other for a layup with 1:38 left.

Keady hung his head and then threw his arms out and looked up at the rafters.

After Deane missed a layup in heavy traffic, Darby was fouled on a drive with 44 seconds left. The Buckeyes had not gone to the line until the 2:40 mark and center Velmir Radinovic missed two shots. But Darby made both attempts to widen the lead to 47-42.

With 35 seconds remaining, Deane missed a 3-pointer and the ball rolled free in a wild scramble. At the sideline, Connolly beat David Teague to the loose ball and whisked it to Jernigan who scored with 29 seconds left.

Ivan Kartelo hit two free throws for the Boilermakers, but Darby closed the scoring with three of his own.

“We know we’ve got to get a run going,” Connolly said.

Purdue has lost four of its last five games including three straight on the road.

The win was the 350th of O’Brien’s career. He is is 115-68 in six years at Ohio State after going 168-166 in 11 years at his alma mater, Boston College, and 67-51 in four seasons at St. Bonaventure.

“If you keep coaching you get 350 eventually,” O’Brien said. “They wrote it on the chalkboard and the guys were busting on me. It’s nice but it’s insignificant. (Win No.) 13 to me is nicer today than 350.”