Ohio State, hanging on by a thread to hope for a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis in two weeks, knows it needs to escape Bloomington and the Hoosiers with a win today. Thad Matta's squad came out with a lot of energy, but also some apparent nerves against Indiana, exemplified by Amir Williams slapping the opening tip all the way to the baseline out of bounds, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. throwing up an airball jumper from the foul line on the team's first possession.
The shaky start continued with a Sam Thompson airball, a missed dunk by Williams, and a travel on a four-on-one fast break by LaQuinton Ross. The Buckeyes started off 0-3 from the floor, but the Hoosiers failed to capitalize, going 1-7 in the first four minutes. A tough drive from Ross and a put back slam and nice lay in on a spin move by Williams had the Buckeyes up 7-2 at the under-16 timeout.
Indiana, playing without freshman Noah Vonleh, who leads the Big Ten in rebounding, gave up two offensive boards to Ohio State in the first five minutes and had trouble establishing anything in the post on the offensive side of the ball. Vonleh has a left foot injury, and was replaced in the starting lineupby sophomore Jeremy Hollowell.
A driving layup by Smith pushed the lead to 9-2 for the Buckeyes out of the under-16, but missed point-blank shots by Thompson and Smith prevented the difference from growing larger. Traded free throws made it 11-5, but Indiana cut the lead to four after a three-point play from Troy Williams. A short post jumper from Hanner Mosquera-Perea cut the lead to two after a pair of three-point misses from Amadeo Della Valle at the under-12 timeout.
The Hoosiers, true to form this season, had five turnovers to only three made field goals through the first eight minutes of action, with Buckeye senior Aaron Craft creeping one steal closer to the Big Ten's career record of 324 set by former Illinois point guard Bruce Douglas. Craft entered the game with 320 career thefts.
After a Marc Loving airball, Ohio State had missed seven straight shots from the floor, before a Shannon Scott layup ended the drought and extended the lead to 13-9. Shortly after the under-12, though, Williams picked up his second foul, which coupled with two quick fouls on Trey McDonald left the Buckeyes playing small ball.
Indiana continued to turn the ball over, and Ohio State started to run. A block by Thompson led to a runout for Smith, which was followed by a layup by Thompson after a long Yogi Ferrell jumper. Smith then grabbed an defensive board and went coast-to-coast for another lay in, prompting Hoosiers coach Tom Crean to call a timeout, trailing 19-11.
Out of the under-8, playing with Ross as de facto center, the Buckeyes continued with their small lineup. Ferrell took advantage of the lack of a shot blocker with a driving layup and a nice dish to Will Sheehey, cutting the lead to 20-16. Following an offensive foul on Thompson, Hollowell got to the line and made a pair, chipping the lead down to two. A driving layup by Williams after a missed spinner at the rim by Craft tied things up with just under five minutes to go. Indiana took the lead on a corner three from Sheehey, continuing an 11-0 run.
Ross and Austin Etherington got into a minor tussle just before the under-4 timeout, which allowed Ferrell two technical free throws and a three-pointer, pushing the Indiana lead to 28-20 and a 16-0 run. A steal by Shannon Scott finally stopped the bleeding, but the Buckeyes trailed 28-22 at the under-4.
Sheehey helped the Hoosiers continue to roll with an elbow jumper and a deep three for a 33-24 lead. A free throw by Craft made it 33-25 at the half.
Two Ohio State scoring droughts of better than three minutes and five minutes, respectively, have the Buckeyes in a hole at the half. Smith led the Buckeyes with nine points, while Indiana's balanced attack was paced by Ferrell, who didn't score in the first six minutes of action, with 10. Sheehey and Williams chipped in seven apiece for the Hoosiers as well.