On one hand, no punches were thrown by anyone in Columbus on Monday night. However, the blow Ohio State dealt to IU’s NCAA Tournament hopes may have been even more painful.
No. 22 Ohio State (17-7, 10-5 B1G) stormed back from a four-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and beat Indiana (16-10, 7-9 B1G), 80-69. The Hoosiers valiantly fought back from 11 points down in the second half before letting the game slip away at the end. IU still lacks a Quad-1 road win on its NCAA Tournament resume.
Mike Woodson had to deal with a short-handed roster for tonight’s game. Not only did Rob Phinisee (foot) remain out, but Trey Galloway (lower body) and Khristian Lander (sore leg) were inactive also. Woodson reverted back to his original starting lineup to take on the Buckeyes.
IU had issues protecting the basketball in the initial stages of the game. The Hoosiers gave it away three times in their first four possessions, and Xavier Johnson committed a whopping five giveaways in the first 10 minutes of the game. Indiana’s staunch defense kept the Buckeyes within arm’s reach.
Chris Holtmann’s team missed six of their first seven attempts out of the gates, many of which were contested looks. Ohio State superstar EJ Liddell (19.7 PPG) had just two points in the game’s first 17 minutes, and even though the Buckeyes made six straight shots midway through the first half, they were plagued by six first-half turnovers of their own.
Parker Stewart and Trayce Jackson-Davis carried IU’s offense in the first half. They combined to make five of IU’s first six field goals of the game, and neither committed a turnover. When Stewart drilled a second consecutive three with 7:42 until halftime, it gave the Hoosiers a one-point lead.
At that point, Buckeye guard Malaki Branham elevated his game to another level. He knocked down two free throws and knocked down two additional field goals to become the first Buckeye in double figures. Indiana did not have any answers for the four-star true freshman, who led OSU in scoring in the first matchup between the teams back in January. Sadly, for IU fans, his night was just beginning.
As strong as IU’s defense was in the first half, it was equally, if not more, weak to start the second. The Top-25 Buckeyes scored on their first seven possessions after halftime, boosting their lead up to double figures. Branham drained three straight shots to get up to 17 points on the night.
Accelerating the Hoosiers’ downfall was a woeful performance at the free throw line, centering around Jackson-Davis, who missed five of six in a rough stretch, including four straight. Kyle Young split a pair at the line at the other end of the court with 13:32 left, and Ohio State led by 11.
Indiana would not quit. In fact, they went on one of their most impressive runs of 2022 to not only get back into the game, but also take the lead in Columbus. It started on the defensive end, where Ohio State, who came into the game with a top-10 offense in the country per KenPom, missed nine straight shots and 11 of 12.
On offense, IU rallied around Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, Johnson, and birthday boy Tamar Bates. Kopp scored five straight to bring the Hoosiers within five, and Bates recorded seven quick-fire points to give Indiana a four-point advantage with 2:47 to go.
The Hoosiers had two chances to add to its four-point lead after stopping the Buckeyes, but Bates missed a straightaway three, and Thompson turned it over to OSU on an errant post feed to Jackson-Davis. Ohio State wouldn’t let the Hoosiers off the hook. Trailing 61-57 with a minute left, Branham made two free throws to bring OSU within two, and after Bates missed another long-ball, Liddell slipped behind the IU defense for a game-tying dunk with six seconds to go. Overtime was needed.
After Thompson gave IU a two-point lead with 4:41 left in OT, the wheels fell off for the Hoosiers. IU proceeded to miss their next (and final) seven shots in the game. Meanwhile, Liddell, Branham, and Jamari Wheeler stuck the dagger into IU. Those three combined for 12 of OSU’s 17 OT points and 22 of OSU’s final 26 going back to the second half.
Any minute chance of an Indiana victory ended when Kopp and Stewart missed threes in the waning stages of the game. Young’s free throws at the end made the final score a double-digit margin.
IU does not have much time to lick its wounds, as Maryland comes to Assembly Hall on Thursday. IU’s last win of the season came against the Terrapins, a 68-55 victory back on January 29. IU is projected to win, 70-64, per KenPom.
Featured Image: Ohio State Basketball