Buoyed by a first half where Cody Zeller and Victor Olapido missed significant time thanks to foul trouble, the Buckeyes used excellent defense, excellent rebounding and a healthy dose of Deshaun Thomas to spring the upset and deny Indiana an outright Big Ten title
After hearing for weeks that Ohio State lacked a signature road victory, the Buckeyes grabbed one in a big way. Deshaun Thomas led the team with 18 points and 7 rebounds, while Aaron Craft threw in 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 dimes and 4 steals, and an absolutely smothering Ohio State defense slowed the game down and choked the life out of Indiana. In the process, the Buckeyes denied the Hoosiers an outright Big Ten title and rained on the team's Senior Day.
Cody Zeller led Indiana with 17 points, but was held to only 2 rebounds after missing significant time in the first half with foul trouble, along with fellow POY candidate Victor Olapido. Christian Watford added 12 points and 5 rebounds, and Oladipo contributed 7 points and 6 rebounds.
The Buckeye bench came up huge for Ohio State, as LaQuinton Ross, Evan Ravenel and Shannon Scott combined for 20 points and 9 rebounds. Scott, in particular, was electric, with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, along with several critical drives to the basket.
The matchup took on the tone of a classic heavyweight fight, with both teams coming out slugging right from the start. The Buckeyes got an excellent early effort from Sam Thompson, who earned the clear MVP of the first 10 minutes of the game. Thompson hit a three, a long jumper, blocked a shot and gave the world another SLAM THOMPSON DOT GIF jam in transition to pace Ohio State's early offensive efforts. The Buckeyes were tied with Indiana 13-13 at the 11:00 minute mark, thanks in large part to Thompson's efforts. Victor Olapido picked up him second foul at this point, and missed the rest of the first half before he could even record a shot attempt.
The two squads would remain neck and neck for the entire first half, with Indiana's 25-21 lead with around 5:00 left the largest lead for either squad. Zeller had picked up his 2nd foul at the 5:57 mark, and Ohio State was able to take advantage. LaQuinton Ross drove in for a layup in transition, then hit a banked drive to the basket to tie the game at 25, while a strong drive to the basket from Aaron Craft picked up an and Ooe situation to push the margin to 28-25. That would complete a 7-0 OSU run that would give Ohio State the halftime lead, by a far a season low for Indiana.
Thompson lead Ohio State at the half with 9 points on 4-5 shooting, along with 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. Flying Sam wouldn't even shoot the ball in the second half, but he wouldn't need to. Deshaun Thomas added 6 points and 5 rebounds on 3-8 shooting, while Craft added 5 points, 3 dimes and 2 steals. Ohio State shot 42.9% from the field, despite going 1-6 from downtown, and critically, was even with Indiana at 17 rebounds.
The Hoosier's offense predictably suffered with Zeller and Olapido out for so much time, as the team shot only 33.3% from the floor. Zeller still lead the team with 8 points and at least one embarrassment of Amir Williams, but had only 1 rebound. Jordan Hulls checked in with just 5 points. For all that had gone wrong for Indiana though, they were fortunate to only be trailing by 3, a margin that a team as explosive as the Hoosiers could make up in a hurry.
It didn't take long. After a Thomas shot was blocked, Olapido attempted to make up for his ineffective first half by quickly burying a three to tie the game. A Watford layup gave the Hoosiers their first lead in over 5 minutes, although Craft quickly tied the game up at 30 with another drive to the basket. The two squads traded punches, but Indiana made their first 6 shots from the field to open the half, staking out a 43-40 lead over Ohio State at the 13:00 minute mark. Ohio State also had 4 team fouls to Indiana's zero.
Ohio State's luck started to change at that point. A tough Craft jumper pulled the Buckeye within 1, and after Indiana's first miss from the floor at the 12:18 mark, an Evan Ravenel bucket in transition gave Ohio State their first lead of the half. The Hoosiers then went cold for over 4 minutes, and Shannon Scott's free throws after a steal and a powerful Lenzelle Smith Jr putback gave the Buckeyes a 48-43 lead that they would not relinquish. Yogi Farrel was able to drive to the basket to get the lid off the bucket for the Hoosiers, but Scott was able to earn the points right back in transition.
Cody Zeller was able to make things interesting again at around the 6 minute mark, as his drive gave Ravenel his 4th foul. Ravenel finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds, and did an excellent job making life difficult in the paint for Indiana, especially after Amir Williams struggled badly in the first half with fouls and spacial awareness. Perhaps Williams was reading Buckeye fans and commentators dog him on Twitter though, and he came up with a huge block on a Yogi Ferrel drive at 4:50 to stop a potential rally and preserve a 56-50 Buckeye lead. Deshaun Thomas then hit the backbreaking three pointer to push the margin to 9, cementing Ohio State's upset bid. Lenzelle Smith put an exclamation mark on the evening with a two-handed slam in transition after a steal, showing to the world that he CAN, in fact, dunk. Now Aaron Craft can stop making fun of him.
Many players had excellent games for Ohio State, but the backcourt of Scott and Craft really carried the day. The two guards combined for an eye-popping 8 steals, and generally made life miserable for Indiana's guards. Ohio State also outrebounded Indiana 34-28, limiting Zeller to just 2 rebounds over the entire game. The difference between the team's previous performance against the Hoosiers could not be more stark.
The implications of this victory are huge for Ohio State. The team now can claim three victories over top 5 squads on the year, and now has a definitive road victory to hang their hat on. This win should give them a Thursday bye in the Big Ten tournament, and solidify no less than a 4 seed in the NCAAs, with a 3 seed potentially in sight depending on whether Ohio State can beat Illinois at home, and what other teams around the country do. The victory also keeps Ohio State's chances at sharing another Big Ten title in play, providing they win against Illinois and Michigan beats Indiana.
For now, fans can enjoy one of their biggest regular season wins in a long time.