The Buckeyes entered Bloomington on a bit of a hot streak and proved that it was more than just a fluke, up-ending the #2 Indiana Hoosiers 67-58. The game was an epic battle of two great teams and just goes to prove the quality of this conference in no uncertain terms. As has been typical the last few games, the Bucks were lead by DeShaun Thomas (18) and Aaron Craft (15) in scoring. Indiana was lead by Cody Zeller (17) and Christian Watford (12), with Oladipo surprisingly not breaking double digits.
It was clear in the first half that the Buckeyes came into this one prepared. OSU began attacking outright and seemed to take Indiana by surprise. Most critically, the Bucks managed to stick Oladipo with two fouls fairly early, which helped to minimize the impact of the Hoosier offense. Not surprisingly, Indiana did manage to get things moving and forced the Bucks to make adjustments to maintain their three point lead going into the half.
The intensity did not dial itself down in the second half. Both teams fought hard, trading baskets through the majority of the half, and generally taking it to the opposing defense. Neither team allowed the other to build too much of an advantage, but the Buckeyes clearly carried the momentum advantage in the middle of the half. Leading into the final TV timeout, the Bucks took control with several straight baskets including a huge DeShaun Thomas three pointer. The run did eventually end on a Hulls three pointer, but the damage was mostly done.
There is no question that this team has gelled after the crushing loss to Wisconsin. I hate to give the Badgers credit for anything, but this team has really come together to be a solid all-around basketball team in a tough conference. A big win in Bloomington is a huge step for the NCAA tournament resume, since it gives the team a big away victory late in the season when it matters most. Ultimately, this team is peaking at exactly the right time, and hopefully they can carry the momentum through the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.
1. Buckeyes shooting to start. You’re probably looking at me like I’m crazy, since we shot 17% from three. But consider that the Buckeyes shot 43% overall – which means the team made very good decisions about which shots to take. OSU put up plenty of interior shots which helped make a big difference.
2. Attacking Indiana’s stars. Oladipo in particular was out with 2 fouls early. He didn’t even attempt a shot in the first half! That was a huge advantage for an OSU team that needed to prove they could hang with the Hoosiers.
3. OSU claimed the largest lead against Indiana of any team that have played them this season. That’s a huge feather in the team’s cap going forward from here.
1. Wasted trips. In a game this big, the Buckeyes could not afford to waste too many trips. On several occasions the Indiana defense was sufficient to completely discombobulate the Buckeye’s offense. That’s not saying much, considering what this team does sometimes, but if you want to win big games on the road, you have to play better offense.
2. Closing out on three point shooters. Need I say more? This continues to be a problem for this team, but at least there seems to be some improvement game to game.
The Buckeyes finish the regular season at home against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday March 10th. You’ll be able to see that game at 12:30 pm eastern on ESPN.