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11:00 AM PT12:00 PM MT1:00 PM CT2:00 PM ET7:00 PM GMT3:00 PM 北京时间12:00 PM MST2:00 PM EST, Mar 2, 2019
Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana  Attendance: 14,804

Haarms looks to carry No. 14 Purdue vs. shorthanded Buckeyes

Purdue sophomore center Matt Haarms is coming up huge for the 14th-ranked Boilermakers down the stretch.

"I think he's really played well for a nice stretch here and I think he's just building confidence," Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said.

The 7-foot-3 Haarms has scored 17 or more points in three of the last four games

And now, when Purdue (21-7, 14-3 Big Ten) hosts Ohio State (18-10, 8-9) on Saturday looking to improve to 15-0 at home, they will do so without having to face the Buckeyes' leading scorer.

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann announced Friday that Kaleb Wesson has been suspended for an unspecified number of games for a policy violation. The school did say in a release, however, that the 6-foot-9, 270-pound sophomore will return this season.

Wesson has appeared in all 28 of the Buckeyes' games this season and is averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds, both team highs.

As for Purdue, expect them to keep going to their hottest player as the calendar turns to March.

Haarms scored a career-high 21 points, hitting all eight field goals, and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double in Wednesday's 73-56 victory over Illinois. For good measure, he also blocked five shots, tying his season high.

"We had to do a good job as a group just moving the basketball and executing some things we were trying to do, and then (Haarms) was going to have some good looks," Painter said. "When he's going to have good looks, he's going to get dunks and layups. He's got to get the ball in good positions. When he does that, he's going to be effective."

Haarms boosted his shooting percentage to 64.1 and scoring average to 8.8 points per game with the performance.

"We've gotten better at our executing game plan," Haarms said.

After hitting just 7 of 40 shots in the previous two games, Purdue leading scorer Carsen Edwards broke out of his slump by hitting 8 of 14 shots en route to 23 points against the Illini.

Ohio State freshman forward Justin Ahrens delivered a much more surprising explosion with a career-high 29 points in Tuesday's 90-70 upset of No. 22 Iowa in Columbus, Ohio, to boost his average to 3.5 points. It was just his second start in 19 games.

"When I got hot, it was going up," Ahrens said. "I really haven't played much all year, so they probably didn't see much of a scouting report."

Ahrens hit 7 of 11 shots, including 6 of 10 3-pointers.

"He's obviously been shooting it well," Holtmann said. "He's a kid that has really grown as the season has gone on. He's still struggles in some areas defensively. The thing I love about Justin is he's a confident kid, but his focus has been on the team playing well and finding a way to help the team to play well. He's been rewarded because he's done that. He's continually gotten better."

Holtmann wasn't ready to commit that Ahrens would start the rest of the season.

"He's just got to keep working and keep his focus about the right things," Holtmann said.

If Ahrens keep shooting like that, it will go a long way in the Buckeyes securing a NCAA Tournament bid.

"We understand there are three games left to be played (in regular season) and they are all going to be extremely difficult and I think we're just trying to keep our focus on the task at hand," said Holtmann, whose team lost to visiting Purdue 79-67 on Jan. 23. "If we can continue to get better, hopefully our body of work will speak for itself. Obviously this was a home win against a very good team. Unfortunately, it's not going to help us one bit when we play one of the best teams in our league on the road."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 1, 2019

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