Ohio State is likely headed to a Thursday game in the Big Ten tournament after dropping their eighth conference game of the season against Indiana, 72-64, on Sunday in Bloomington. Another tough shooting game sent the Buckeyes to their second straight loss, as they shot just 14-23 (60.9 percent) from the free throw line and failed to hit on a three-point shot for the first time in 367 games, going 0-11 from beyond the arc.
Despite forcing nine turnovers and blocking six shots in the first half, Ohio State found itself trailing Indiana 33-25 after the game's first twenty minutes. The Buckeyes shot a paltry 35.7 percent from the floor, including 0-6 from beyond the arc, and missed seven of their twelve free throw attempts to dig themselves a hole.
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 lineup by 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, had 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.
The cold shooting continued into the second half, but both teams were loose with the ball, and the Hoosiers failed to bump out their lead. A Craft steal, which tied him with former Illinois point guard Bruce Douglas for the Big Ten's all-time career record, led to an easy layup and cut the Buckeyes' deficit to four, 35-31. A put back by Sheehey ended a 6-0 Ohio State run, but a Ross floater made it 37-33 at the under-16 timeout.
A strong move in traffic by Amir Williams drew Ohio State within two out of the under-16, but he missed an and-one, dropping the Buckeyes to 5-14 from the line for the game. The teams traded buckets until a Ferrell triple and an acrobatic scoop shot from Stanford Robinson pushed the Hoosier lead to 46-37.
Ross was fouled on an aggressive drive just before the under-12 timeout, putting the Buckeyes in the bonus early in the second half, and made the pair, easing some of the Buckeyes' woes at the charity stripe. A pair of interior buckets and a sweeping layup by Ross, who scored eight straight for Ohio State, shrunk the lead to 48-47, but a corner three from Evan Gordon and and a deep elbow three from Sheehey extended the lead back to seven at 54-47.
The Buckeyes tightened the screws on defense following the under-8 timeout, but just couldn't buy a bucket. Another three minute scoring drought, along with jumpers by Ferrell and Sheehey saw Indiana's lead grow to 58-51, and an insurmountable defecit for Ohio State.
An and-one on a lob pass from Ferrell to Mosquera-Perea leading into the under-4 timeout was the final nail in the Buckeyes' coffin, as Ross fouled out with 19 points and left Ohio State without their number one offensive option. The Hoosiers held on despite a late desperate run by the Buckeyes in the game's final minutes, winning 72-64.
Ohio State, which drops to 22-8 on the season and just 9-8 in the Big Ten, was paced by Ross with his 19 points. Smith chipped in 17, but the Buckeyes couldn't overcome another poor perimeter shooting performance. Sheehey, who had never scored more than five points against Ohio State in five previous regular season games, had 19, along with five rebounds and four steals, to lead the Hoosiers, who improved to 17-12, 7-9 in conference play. Ferrell added 18, and he and Sheehey combined for six made three-point shots in the game.
Ohio State has a week off before Senior Night next Sunday, the final home game for Craft and Smith, against Michigan State. For the Buckeyes, who are likely headed to a first round tilt in the Big Ten tournament and have lost two straight, this marks their first regular season loss in March since the 2009-10 season.