Indiana-Ohio St. Preview
Indiana is on the verge of its longest winning streak of the season after blowing out one of the country's top teams.
After starting their run with a narrow win over Ohio State, the 23rd-ranked Hoosiers will try to extend it when they visit the Buckeyes on Sunday.
Indiana (15-4, 5-1 Big Ten) is suddenly looking like a force to be reckoned with in the conference behind one of the country's most potent offenses. The Hoosiers are averaging 81.9 points while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range to rank top 10 nationally in both categories.
Everything was clicking for Indiana in Thursday's 89-70 win over No. 13 Maryland. The Hoosiers shot 60.0 percent, including 15 of 22 from beyond the arc for their most made 3s since Jan. 8, 2012.
"They're a great team, a ranked team and beating them gives us more confidence," forward Troy Williams said. "This win is great for us mentally, great for us physically."
Yogi Ferrell led the way with 24 points while shooting 7 of 8 from long distance, and James Blackmon Jr. scored 22. Williams, who added 16 points, is averaging 16.8 on 59.1 percent shooting over the last four games.
"We have great respect for Maryland, they knew it was a big deal and they wanted to see where they stood," coach Tom Crean said. "We're just improving. They've been improving all year and what these guys have done over a period of time is bond closer and they've really worked hard, I would say, to control what they can control."
Indiana is seeking a third consecutive win over Ohio State after holding on for a 69-66 victory Jan. 10. Blackmon had 18 points and Williams added 15 and a career-high 12 rebounds as the Hoosiers held the then-No. 22 Buckeyes to 34.3 percent from the floor.
The Hoosiers haven't defeated Ohio State twice in the same season since 2007-08, and Crean knows another win won't be easy to come by.
"To me, they've got great spacing like you see in this league, and that fact that they can go inside, outside, midrange, is big," he said of the Buckeyes. "And with so many guys that can handle the ball, not only with (D'Angelo) Russell but Shannon Scott makes them so good. I think they are playing very, very well."
Russell ranks second in the conference with 19.3 points per game, and he's averaging 27.0 over the last three. The star freshman had a season-high 33 on 12-of-17 shooting in Thursday's 69-67 win at Northwestern.
"There's nothing you can really do," Wildcats guard Tre Demps told his school's official website. "Some of the shots he was hitting, they're the shots you want somebody to take. He's a great player. He's going to make a lot of money playing in the NBA. You've got to tip your hat to him."
Russell was held to 13 points while shooting a season-worst 3 of 15 against the Hoosiers. The Buckeyes are 10-1 when he scores at least 18.
Ohio State is 13-1 at home, losing 71-65 to Iowa on Dec. 30. The Buckeyes had outscored Indiana by an average of 21.7 points during a four-game home winning streak before losing 81-68 to the top-ranked Hoosiers on Feb. 10, 2013.
Ohio State is still seeking its first win over a ranked opponent after falling 64-55 at then-No. 5 Louisville on Dec. 2 and 82-74 to then-No. 24 North Carolina on Dec. 20 in Chicago.