E'Twaun Moore seemingly toyed with Ohio State.
Whether he was knocking down one of his seven 3-pointers, making an acrobatic layup or draining a jumper in the closing seconds of the first half, the senior guard seemed at ease. He scored a career-high 38 points to help No. 11 Purdue beat No. 2 Ohio State 76-63 on Sunday.
His teammates saw it coming.
"I know once he gets that rhythm going and steps back and hits a 3 and once he smiles, you know he has it going," guard Lewis Jackson said. "E'Twaun, he may put his fingers up and tell you he hit a 3-pointer, but he rarely smiles. Once he smiles, he's in a zone, and you probably won't stop him that night."
Purdue (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) has had much to smile about in the past week. The Boilermakers defeated No. 10 Wisconsin on Wednesday, and their two wins over Top 10 teams brought them within a game of the Buckeyes (25-2, 12-2) for the conference lead with four games to play.
Purdue's win capped a week that saw the top four teams in the AP Top 25 lose a game. With losses in the past week by No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 Pittsburgh, the Buckeyes entered the game in line to reclaim the No. 1 ranking they dropped after losing at Wisconsin on Feb. 12.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta knew his team was playing in a rough stretch, and he expected challenges.
"We've got to continue to keep our focus," he said. "Our guys know we have to play better basketball and we have to get them ready to do that."
Ohio State center Jared Sullinger, who scored 25 points, said this game was nothing like Ohio State's 87-64 win over Purdue on Jan. 25.
"In that game, we had toughness to not get screened, toughness to make shots, toughness to make plays on the defensive end, and we didn't do that today," he said.
Jon Diebler scored 11 points and David Lighty and Aaron Craft each had 10 for the Buckeyes, who have lost two of three after winning their first 24 games.
Moore surpassed 2,000 career points during a flurry of 13 in the final 3:49 of the first half, becoming the fifth player in school history to reach the milestone.
"Right now, it's just numbers to me," Moore said. "I still have a career and games to play. Later I may look back on it and really say that was a lot of points, a lot of rebounds, and enjoy it with my friends and family. But right now I still have a lot of basketball."
Moore made 13 of 18 shots and had five assists and two steals. Purdue coach Matt Painter said Moore's performance was extra special because it came against Lighty, whom Painter considers the best defensive guard in the Big Ten.
"He gets into those rhythms and gets going, he can score points in bunches," Painter said. "I've always thought he was one of the best guards in the country when he lets things come to him. He didn't force a lot. That's really, whether he takes 10 shots or 20 shots, the deal with him. If he can do that, he really, really helps our team."
JaJuan Johnson added 13 points and six rebounds for Purdue.
Diebler entered the game one 3-pointer short of the Big Ten career record of 331 set by Penn State's Pete Lisicky from 1994-1998. Diebler tied the record on a fadeaway as the shot clock expired that gave Ohio State an 11-5 lead, and broke it on a shot from the right corner 1 minute into the second half.
Ohio State led 28-24 in the first half before Moore took over. He hit a 3-pointer, then scored on an acrobatic fastbreak layup to give Purdue the lead. He followed that with two more 3s to give the Boilermakers a 35-30 lead.
Lighty's 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the first half cut the lead to two, but Moore drained a jumper over Lighty in the closing seconds of the half to push Purdue's lead to 37-33.
Moore found a streaking Terone Johnson with a behind-the-back pass, and Johnson's layup gave Purdue a 48-42 lead. Moore then made a long jumper to push the lead to 10 for the first time.
Ohio State hung around while Purdue took questionable shots. Sullinger drove for a powerful two-handed dunk and was fouled. His free throw cut Purdue's lead to 56-51.
Moore hit a fadeaway, then his sixth 3-pointer, to increase Purdue's lead to 61-53.
Ohio State closed the gap to 65-61, but Moore hit another 3-pointer, and Purdue led by at least seven points the rest of the way.
Purdue shot 51 percent overall after hitting just 38 percent in the first matchup.
"We're not playing team defense," Sullinger said. "We need five guys connected. Once we get that back, we're going to be all right."
Ohio State shot 6 for 22 from the field and committed nine turnovers in the second half.
"We need to execute better on offense," Diebler said. "We had some turnovers that were self-imposed. That's the beauty of college basketball. We've got another game Tuesday."