On the final day of the 2016-2017 regular season, Ohio State (17-14, 7-11) suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of the visiting Indiana Hoosiers (17-14, 7-11), 96-92. Despite a fervent OSU comeback, the season-ending defeat means that the Buckeyes will finish no higher than 11th in the final Big Ten seedings, meaning that they will play in the conference tournament’s first round on Wednesday.
The IU total is the most points that Ohio State has ever allowed in the Value City Arena.
The Hoosiers rushed out to a lightning quick 11-0 lead in the game’s first 2:21, shooting 4-4 from the field, including three three-pointers by three different players. OSU head coach Thad Matta used his first timeout to settle his team, and on the subsequent possession, C.J. Jackson opened the scoring for the home team with a three-pointer.
However, the sophomore’s trey did little to stem the IU tide. Over the next six minutes, the Hoosiers continued their incredible shooting, hitting 13 of their first 15, and the two misses resulted in offensive rebounds and put-backs. The hot shooting included five three-pointers in seven attempts.
Indiana was aided by a seemingly listless Buckeye team on both ends of the court. Their offense lacked any sort of sharpness, and the defense continually allowed IU to take open jump shots and uncontested layups.
As the Buckeyes slowly began to turn up the pressure defensively, often by virtue of doubling IU on the block, they were kept in the game by hot shooting beyond the arc. Ohio State hit its first five of seven from downtown, including two from JaQuan Lyle. After trailing by as many as 18, the Buckeyes scratched back to 11 with seven minutes left in the first half.
Due to poor shot-selection, OSU missed a handful of opportunities to cut the lead to single-digits, but were never able to break that barrier in the first half. However, Lyle turned in an impressive 15 points in the first half to lead the Buckeyes, keeping them with shouting distance for much of the half. However, as had happened multiple times this season, Lyle had less of an impact after halftime, finishing with 18.
That being said, IU’s offense produced four first half, double-digit scorers; Robert Johnson (15), Thomas Bryant (14), Josh Newkirk (13), and James Blackmon Jr. (10). While Indiana’s hot early-shooting did regress to the mean a bit, they did end the first half going 22-34 (64.7%) from the floor and 7-12 (58.3%) from three. Conversely, Ohio State was at 13-29 (44.8%) and 6-9 (66.7%) from beyond the arc.
Additionally, IU dominated the points in the paint 28-12, mostly on the strength of the Buckeye defense’s inability to guard driving Hoosiers one-on-one.
As the second half began, an IU turnover and an increased defensive effort from OSU, finally got the Buckeyes back within single-digits as Jackson hit a three-pointer about three minutes into the half. Indiana led 57-48, when OSU center Trevor Thompson imposed his will underneath the basket and completed an old-fashioned three-point play, cutting the lead to six. That possession was followed by a quick Johnson miss for IU and a Thompson jumper to cut the deficit to 57-53 before the under-16 timeout.
After the timeout, the Hoosiers came out in a 2-3 zone which slowed down the Buckeyes’ momentum. However, thanks to a handful of IU misses, the Buckeyes took their first lead of the game as Jackson hit his third triple of the game, putting the home team up 62-61 with 10:58 remaining in regulation.
A minute later, Thompson picked up his third foul of the game, eventually leading to Matta subbing in freshman Micah Potter for the first time in the second half. Potter’s appearance was short-lived as after the next media timeout, Thompson returned and almost immediately picked up his fourth foul, sending him to the bench at 7:13. Thompson finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.
While Thompson didn’t sit for long, Indiana was able to build a lead, and OSU trailed 86-80 with 1:17 remaining. With 46.4 remaining Newkirk traveled, giving the Buckeyes the chance to cut the lead to 89-85 on a Thompson basket.
Down the stretch, Jae’Sean Tate took over from an OSU offensive perspective. He finished the game with 20 points, the most for anyone in Scarlet and Gray, but it wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes came up short in the regular season finale.
Jackson finished the game with 18 points, and Marc Loving had 11 points on his Senior Day.
The next time that the Ohio State basketball team returns to the hardwood, it will be at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Wednesday as part of the Big Ten Tournament.
3 things we learned:
1. Ohio State will have to wait for their Big Ten Tournament first round opponent. By virtue of their regular season-ending defeat, the Buckeyes finish the conference slate with a 7-11 record. That currently ties them with Indiana for 10th in the conference. Since today’s game was the only matchup between the teams this season, IU holds the tie-breaker, meaning that Ohio State is the de facto 11th seed.
That means that with Illinois at 8-9, there is no longer any opportunity for the Buckeyes to escape the four-team first round of the conference tournament.
However, Penn State and Nebraska currently hold 6-11 records, so the order of finish is still to be determined. Penn State visits Iowa on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST and Nebraska hosts Michigan at 8:00 p.m. EST. The results of those games will determine whether Ohio State plays No. 14 Rutgers as the 11th seed, or PSU, Nebraska, or Indiana in the No. 12 vs. No. 13 matchup.
No matter the opponent, Ohio State will play in the tournament’s first day on Wednesday.
2. This Ohio State basketball team is maddening to watch. I know this isn’t exactly something we “learned” today, but it was certainly reinforced against Indiana. Whether it is cohesion issues, style of play, team chemistry, coaching philosophy, or Mars now being perpetually in retrograde, this edition of the Ohio State basketball team has squandered a talented, well-balanced lineup.
Yes, the team has fallen victim to more one and two possession defeats than any squad (or fanbase) should have to endure, but frustrating levels of inconsistency has marred what could have been.
Today’s game is a perfect microcosm of the season. Indiana raced out to an 18-point lead while Ohio State seemingly sleep-walked through the majority of the first half. Then after halftime, Ohio State dominated the action, eventually taking a lead, before losing a close game. While the comeback was exciting, it leads fans to wonder what the season could have been had the Buckeyes been able to maximize their talent and potential from start to finish this season.
3. There are reasons to be optimistic about next season. Not to discount a potential B1G Tournament run, or even one in the NIT, if you are looking to get excited about Ohio State basketball, you might be best suited following the women’s team or looking to next year.
And, perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, but depending on if any Buckeyes leave early, there are reasons to be excited about the 2017-2018 Buckeye basketball team. If Tate, Thompson, and Kam Williams all come back, and Keita Bates-Diop returns from injury, that would give OSU one of the best senior classes in the country with rising junior Jackson having gotten a year of DI ball under his belt.
If the team is able to coalesce and build some consistency in the next season, they could finally live up to the expectations that Buckeye fans have for the squad.