Ohio State and Indiana locked horns today in Columbus, Ohio for the first time since December. The Buckeyes quickly dispatched them 82-61 in a game that was only close for the first 10 minutes. The man who made the difference for the Buckeyes was the suddenly hot Deshaun Thomas, who scored 22 points and collected 4 rebounds in coming off the bench. While Sullinger only scored 5, his 2 points of the first half were enough to become the 29th OSU player to score 500 points in a season.
Indiana gave the Buckeyes a fight through the first few minutes of the game. The Hoosiers found several easy baskets in the paint to jump out to a quick lead. It didn’t last, however, as the Buckeyes quickly closed the gap to tie it up before the first timeout. Interestingly, both Pritchard of Indiana and Sullinger went out before the first TV timeout, both with two quick fouls.
Those losses completely changed the game dynamic. Over the next four minutes, the teams combined to score two points. Neither team had any success working their offenses with their big men on the bench. Indiana, in particular, struggled shooting the ball shooting 0-7 for six minutes following Pritchard leaving the game.
With the struggles, Indiana was forced to return Pritchard to the game with two fouls. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work the way Tom Crean had hoped it would work. The x-factor was a little weapon the Buckeyes like to call “Deshaun Thomas”. Thomas sank 2 quick three pointers in a row, while grabbed a huge defensive rebound between them. The effort snatched the momentum in Ohio State’s favor and started to take the game away.
Thomas’ run continued for a ludicrious stretch. For four minutes, the Buckeyes went on a 14-3 run. In that run, Deshaun Thomas was the only Buckeye to score points. That was the stretch that established the big Buckeye lead and set the tone going into the half. The run was so good that even Jordan Sibert managed to make it into the game before halftime.
Overall, the Buckeyes went on a 28-13 run with Sullinger sitting on the bench. For anyone thinking that the Bucks don’t deserve a #1 seed, OSU can play with or without Sullinger with equal ability.
Deshaun Thomas’ 16 points in the first half led all scorers at the half and, in fact, he was the only scorer to make it to double figures. For the half, the Buckeyes shot a surprisingly poor (relatively speaking) 48% (12-25) from the floor and 36.4% (4-11) from three. But even as low as that was, it wasn’t as low as Indiana’s 36% (9-25) and 0% (0-8) respectively.
In fact, the only thing Indiana did right was to win the rebounding (18-14) battle. The Buckeyes outdid the Hoosiers in assists (9-2), turnovers (4-9), steals (4-1) and even blocks (1-0). Crean’s team was in big trouble going into the half, but had to be happy with the poor shooting the Buckeye’s had shown to that point. That was basically the only way they were going to work their way back into the game.
The second half started out no better for Indiana than the first half ended. The Buckeyes quickly jumped out of the gate outscoring Tom Crean’s team. One thing that was really hurting the Hoosiers was Sullinger’s rebounding returning to the game. Crean called a quick timeout to try to solve the problem, quickly realizing that if the Hoosier’s started losing the rebounding game, they would have no hope at all to make a comeback.
The timeout didn’t seem to make a difference. The Hoosier’s were only saved by OSU’s occasional mistakes keeping the Buckeyes from completely running away with the game. The Bucks found themselves slowly stretching their lead over several minutes. It certainly felt, though, that it was only a matter of time before they went on massive, game-ending run.
Indiana simply wasn’t going to let it happen. After allowing the Buckeyes a 24 point lead halfway into the second half, the Hoosier’s managed to find four quick points to start a mini-run. That run was put to bed with a Lighty three pointer that had all the looks of a slap. Lighty was letting the Hoosiers know that they needed to get back in their place.
The end of the game was nearly picture-perfect tresselball. The Buckeyes spent their time focusing on keeping the difference in the game. No matter what Indiana did, the Buckeyes were never worse than 20 up. Though, the Hoosier’s similarly prevented the Buckeyes from letting it get much better either.
For the game, the Buckeyes shot 51.1% (24-47) from the field and 7-17 (41.2%) from three, much improved from the first half. Indiana responded with an improvement of their own, including making 6 of 13 three pointers in the second half to finish at 28.6% (6-21) and 38.5% from the floor (20-52).
Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 22 and was joined in double digits by William Buford (15), David Lighty (11) and Jon Diebler (11). Indiana saw only Verdell Jones (14) and Christian Watford (12) make the same mark. The Buckeyes also outrebounded the Hoosiers 34-28 while committing 3 fewer turnovers.
Ohio State next faces Penn State in Happy Valley on Tuesday, March 1st at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. You’ll be able to see that game on the Big Ten Network.