COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Brent Darby scored 16 points and backcourt partner Sean Connolly added 15 as Ohio State took advantage of the absence of Kenneth Lowe and posted a 52-44 Big Ten Conference victory over No. 23 Purdue.
Darby made just 5-of-17 shots, but penetrated effectively to set up Connolly's outside shots as Ohio State (13-11, 6-7 Big Ten) improved to 11-3 when leading at halftime.
"We beat a ranked team. It keeps us somewhat in the hunt," said Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien, who picked up his 350th career win, including 115 with the Buckeyes.
"I keep telling our guys that we have the ability to win, but we have to keep approaching our season one game at a time. We are a 12-11 team and the crowd was really into out and that was a big factor for us. If the crowd comes out for the next two games, I believe we can win both of them."
Ohio State, which has a school-record four straight 20-win seasons, has three home games remaining with its only road contest coming at Northwestern.
"This is a huge game for us," Connolly said. "We feel we have to win out if we want to make the tournament and win a couple games in the Big Ten tournament too."
Darby connected on 5-of-6 free throws in the final 2:40 to seal the victory. He has 1,215 career points, eight behind former Boston Celtics great John Havlicek for 24th place on Ohio State's all-time list.
"We know we have to win out of we want any chance at making the tournament," Darby said. "We have three games left and we'll take them one game at a time. It feels good to get a `W,' but there's more games left to win, so we're not too excited about this one."
Connolly scored all his points on 3-pointers, making five in a row before missing his final two attempts.
Willie Deane scored 13 points and Lowe added eight for Purdue (16-8, 8-5), which has lost four of its last five games and likely will drop out of the rankings.
"We just couldn't make shots today and our 17 turnovers didn't help," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "We tried to get the ball inside, but they (Ivan Kartelo and Chris Booker) had nine turnovers. We have to cut those down."
Lowe dislocated his left shoulder late in the first half and watched the final 20 minutes with an ice pack under his sweatshirt. He made all three shots he took, including two from behind the arc. The rest of the team shot just 12.5 percent (2-of-16) from 3-point range.
Matt Sylvester scored 11 points in 30 minutes off the bench and Velimir Radinovic pulled down nine rebounds for Ohio State, which avenged a 70-65 loss at Purdue on January 29.
The Buckeyes limited Purdue to 33 percent (8-of-24) from the floor in the first half and held a 23-20 edge.
Zach Williams made a layup to cap an 8-0 burst and give Ohio State its biggest lead, 31-21, with 16:09 remaining. Purdue scored seven straight points to trim the margin to 33-30 on a 3-pointer by David Teague with 12:39 to play.
The Boilermakers got within one point, when Brandon McKnight made his only basket of the game with 2:15 remaining to make it 43-42. But Darby responded with a layup 31 seconds later and Williams got a key rebound off a missed jumper by Deane.
Darby hit a pair of free throws with 44 seconds to play and, after Deane misfired on a 3-pointer, Emonte Jernigan finished a fast break with a layup for his only points and a 49-42 advantage with 25 seconds to go.
"We need to be patient down the stretch," Keady said. "We are not a spectacular team. We are an average team who needs to play hard."