Indiana leans on solid defense, holds on late to beat No. 22 Ohio State
In a game that featured two high-powered offenses -- both No. 22 Ohio State and Indiana entered Saturday among the top 11 teams in the country for points per game -- it took a grind-it-out, strong defensive effort for the Hoosiers to hold on at home over the Buckeyes, 69-66.
The game featured two of the Big Ten's top freshmen: Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, and Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. Russell was coming off a 27-point performance against Minnesota on Tuesday, but Blackmon got the edge on him on Saturday, scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Russell finished with 13 points and eight rebounds of his own, but was cold from the floor, making only three of his 15 shot attempts.
Indiana appeared to have Ohio State on the ropes after a Blackmon three-point play put the Hoosiers up by 10 with 3:30 to play, but the Buckeyes stormed back behind seven points in three minutes from Sam Thompson. Indiana made all nine of its free throws down the stretch, and opted not to foul with a three-point lead and 5.9 seconds on the clock. Russell got a somewhat decent look, but missed an NBA-range three attempt at the buzzer to end the game.
The Hoosiers used timely shooting and strong rebounding to overcome 15 turnovers and only two steals. Indiana grabbed 48 rebounds, which is nine above its average, including 12 by sophomore forward Troy Williams, who also added 15 points for a double-double.
One of the highlights of the game came when, in a span of 10 seconds, Williams threw down a fast-break dunk, then blocked a shot on the other end.
In a loss earlier in the week to Michigan State, point guard Yogi Ferrell was one of the Hoosiers' only bright spots, but he struggled from the field against the Buckeyes, shooting 1-of-8 for the game, including five missed three-pointers. But Ferrell, who leads the Big Ten in free throw percentage, went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe in the final 21 seconds to seal the win for Indiana.
The game featured 14 blocks -- seven per side -- including three by Hoosiers forward Collin Hartman. Ohio State did a good job taking care of the ball, committing just five turnovers, but were doomed by poor shooting. The Buckeyes shot 34.3 percent from the floor and made only three of 21 shots from the perimeter. Indiana wasn't too much better, shooting 40 percent overall and 4-of-18 from three, but did just enough on the boards and from the free throw line.
The win was a solid bounce-back victory for Indiana, who was coming off a 20-point road loss to Michigan State that saw them score only 50 points. It was the Hoosiers' third win over a ranked team this season, however none of the three teams (SMU, Butler, OSU) are likely to be ranked come Monday.
The Hoosiers (12-4, 2-1 Big Ten) will remain home to take on Penn State on Tuesday. OSU (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten), who is in the middle of a tough stretch that features four of five games on the road, return to Columbus to host Michigan on Tuesday.