To wrap up the regular season, the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3) spoiled the Indiana Hoosiers’ (16-14, 9-9) Senior Night with a 80-78 victory on Friday Night at Assembly Hall. With the victory, the Buckeyes are guaranteed one of the top two seeds in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
They can take the top-seed, and a share of the regular season title, with a No. 2 Michigan State loss at Wisconsin on Sunday. The Hoosiers will be slotted into the No. 6 or 7 seed, depending on the outcome of the Penn State at Nebraska game.
Though OSU led for most of the game, it was a contentious, back-and-forth contest throughout. Every time that the Buckeyes would go on a run, the Hoosiers would respond with a series of seemingly uncontested layups and OSU turnovers. However, it was a C.J. Jackson dagger from deep that will send the Buckeyes into the postseason on a positive note.
Due to the two extra periods, four Buckeyes logged over 40 minutes in the game, while Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 33. The bench accounted for only 48 of the possible 250 minutes of playing time.
Also capitalizing on his 13 against Rutgers following a three-game suspension, Kam Williams became the 56th member of the Ohio State men’s basketball program to score more then 1,000 points in his career.
C.J. Jackson got the scoring going with a smooth drive to the basket, thanks to an excellent seal out by Kaleb Wesson. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, this was likely the freshman center’s best moment of the first 20 minutes. From there, Williams got five of the team’s next seven points, to give the Buckeyes a 9-8 lead at the first media timeout.
CJ Jackson with a quick bucket + nice dish on the break to start the game pic.twitter.com/oZUIJ2YWlc— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 24, 2018
Despite starting slowly in most of the games over the last month or so, Big Ten Player of the Year front-runner Keita Bates-Diop got going early on Friday, thanks to his ability to get to the line. He hit three free-throws, then connected from distance, to give himself an early six. His other considerable skills were on display as well, as he notched three rebounds and two blocks in the first eight minutes of action.
Even though KBD has mostly maintained his impressive stat lines throughout the season, he— likely more than any other Buckeye— will benefit from the six days off before the conference tournament tips off for OSU. He has been asked to carry the load on both sides of the floor all year, and his legs have been showing signs of fatigue as of late. Having nearly a week off before the B1G Tournament (and then another week and a half before the NCAA Tournament) should do him a world of good.
Thanks in part to a 13-2 run, the Buckeyes opened up a 22-14 lead at the under-eight media timeout, even though they were shooting just 36.8 percent (7-for-19) from the field. They were buoyed by three three-pointers (two from Bates-Diop and one from Williams).
They were helped by the fact that IU’s leading scorer Juwan Morgan picked up an early two fouls. While Hoosier head coach Archie Miller didn’t pull his junior forward for long, Morgan did seem more tentative, especially on the defensive end, as was evidenced by the fancy back-door cut by Jackson.
Nice backdoor pass from Tate to Jackson puts Ohio State up 10 pic.twitter.com/702DyYWNpp— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 24, 2018
After back-to-back buckets by Williams, OSU held a 26-14 lead, but sloppy play by the Buckeyes— including two turnovers by Andrew Dakich— led to a Hoosier 8-0 run, which was punctuated by a Justin Smith follow-up dunk.
Indiana was down just 26-22 when the teams went into the final media timeout of the half with 3:44 remaining.
Out of that timeout, Bates-Diop found Jackson at the top of the key, and the junior nailed a three. Unfortunately, IU’s Aljami Durham responded with one of his own on the next trip down the floor. After a KBD jumper, Andre Wesson was late getting around a screen, and Freddie McSwain Jr. connected from distance. Next, on the subsequent possession, Durham missed the “and-1” that would have tied the game at 31.
After McSwain hit the front-end of two free-throws, he air-balled the second, giving the Buckeyes the ball with less than 40 seconds ahead of the half. KBD hit a bank-shot from the block, and then Josh Newkirk hit a pair of free-throws to send the game to the locker room tied at 33.
Bates-Diop led all scorers at intermission with 13. He was also tops in rebounds (7) as well. Williams was the next Buckeye with nine points. Indiana senior Robert Johnson also had nine to lead the home team in his final game in Assembly Hall.
Most of the halftime stats were fairly comparable; OSU shot 40 percent (12-30) in the half, while IU went 12-27 (44.4%); both teams were 4-8 (50%) from downtown. Ohio State coughed up six turnovers to Indiana’s five.
The two biggest discrepancies were free-throw shooting and bench points. Both teams connected on five FTs, but the Buckeyes did so in seven attempts to IU’s 10. And, while Micah Potter had all four of OSU’s bench points, the Hoosier reserves combined for 14.
A Williams dunk and a Bates-Diop jumper accounted for the first two baskets of the half, before Tate picked up his third foul of the game. Trusting his senior leader, head coach Chris Holtmann let the Pickerington native stay in the game. On the next offensive possession, he forced Morgan into his third foul of the game, sending him to the bench.
After the teams traded buckets, Tate used a sneaky little stutter-step on the fastbreak to get his first points of the night, giving the Buckeyes a 43-36 lead. OSU opened the second half on an impressive 10-3 run in just over four minutes of action.
Jae'Sean Tate just crossed this man up something fierce pic.twitter.com/p5myVe4tdy— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 24, 2018
As the second half progressed, both Wesson brothers were whistled for their third fouls. With the younger Wesson out of the game, Potter allowed two sneaky IU layups underneath (one by Smith and the other by Johnson), and then mishandled a pass, turning it back over to the Hoosiers. Despite the fact that the Buckeyes went 7-for-10 from the field to open the half, they were only able to open a 48-45 lead.
With 10:37 remaining in the half, Durham cut to the basket and laid it in to tie the game at 48. After the teams exchanged layups, Jackson hit his second triple of the night. Bookmarking a thunderous Smith dunk, Bates-Diop and Tate both hit nifty floaters in the lane to, but Zach McRoberts hit a corner three to answer, and to get the Hoosiers back within a single possession.
Following a Dakich offensive foul, Morgan picked up his first bucket of the half, and Tate picked up his fourth foul of the game. Morgan missed the free-throw, but the game was tied at 59 with five minutes remaining in the half.
Bates-Diop turned the ball over on the offensive end, which led to a Newkirk layup, giving IU its first lead since they were up 10-9 at the 15:23 mark in the first half. On the next possession, Tate got inside and ended a 7-0 Indiana run to tie it back up.
Then on the other end of the floor, he drew an offensive foul on Morgan— the junior’s fourth. From there, the Buckeyes went to Bates-Diop, who hit a contested jumper. Then on the next IU possession, he blocked a Smith shot inside. It was KBD’s third block of the game. However, after the ensuing in-bounds, Bates-Diop fouled Smith, who hit both ends of the 1-and-1 to tie it at 63.
KBD picked up a steal— his second of the evening— on the defensive end that led to a Jackson three-point attempt that went halfway down before popping back out.
A contested Tate jumper in the lane was left wanting, giving IU the ball and the shot-clock turned off, but they were unable to get a basket, and the two traditional rivals went to overtime to close out the regular season.
In the extra session, Morgan hit the front-end of a 1-and-1, but then IU got the tip and rebound on the missed back-end. However, they couldn’t capitalize, and it was Kaleb Wesson’s turn to head to the stripe after being fouled on a shot attempt in the lane. The freshman hit just one of his two free-throws, and the game was again tied.
On the next possession, the Buckeyes gave up yet another layup, as Morgan found McRoberts cutting to the lane. Kaleb Wesson responded with an inside bunny, and then Williams got the Buckeye steal, leading to yet another easy bucket for the freshman Wesson.
However, the action continued to be fast and furious in overtime, as Morgan got another layup just inside of two minutes, but Williams answered with a long two to give OSU a 70-68 lead.
With the lead and the ball, Holtmann called timeout to set up his offense. In an effort to get a two-for-one, the call was to give Bates-Diop a three-point attempt from the top of the key. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, it bounced off the back of the rim, and IU’s McRoberts collected the rebound.
After a timeout, on the offensive end, Morgan missed the layup, and McRoberts tipped the ball back to a Hoosier, giving them another offensive possession, down two. After the break, Johnson turned the corner and attacked the basket. Andre Wesson fouled him in the act, and Johnson hit both to tie the game at 70. The foul disqualified the elder Wesson for the remainder.
With 7.8 seconds left, Jackson and Bates-Diop fought over a Tate pass, sending the game to a second extra frame. Bates-Diop ended the contest as the game’s high scorer with 24. He also notched 14 boards, also the game’s best.
The first offensive possession for the Buckeyes went inside to KBD. He was unable to hit the shot, but he was fouled. He only connected on one of his free-throws. On IU’s first possession, Kaleb Wesson picked up his fourth foul, but Morgan missed both, giving the Buckeyes the ball and the advantage. But, Williams rushed a jumper, leading to yet another backdoor cut. This time Morgan slammed it home to take the 72-71 lead.
On the other end, Jackson had a layup blocked out of bounds. However, with just one second left on the shot clock, Bates-Diop couldn’t connect on the jumper. But after a Kaleb Wesson rebound, Tate took the ball in transition all the way to the hoop, giving OSU the one-point lead.
On the next trip, the freshman Wesson got tangled up with Morgan fighting through the screen, and fouled out. Morgan made both free-throws to give the Hoosiers the 74-73 lead with 2:30 remaining. Kaleb Wesson had only seven points heading into overtime, but finished with 12.
With both Wessons out, Dakich was back in the game after a long absence. On the drive, he found Tate inside for the layup. However, the lead was short-lived as Smith converted on a layup of his own.
KBD put up a deep three as the shot-clock expired. It hit off the rim hard, but Johnson traveled as he fell to the floor after collecting the board, giving OSU another possession, and the Buckeyes took advantage, as KBD imposed his will inside, giving the Buckeyes the 77-76 lead with just :58 left.
On IU’s trip down the floor, Tate played fantastic defense with four fouls, forcing a wild Smith attempt that was eventually corralled by Bates-Diop. However, OSU couldn’t take advantage as Dakich mishandled a pass resulting in an over-and-back.
Morgan backed KBD down for the layup, to take the lead. But with less than four seconds remaining, Jackson hit an incredible three-pointer to ice the game for the Buckeyes 80-78.
That moment when CJ Jackson looks over at KBD and just decides, "what the hell"— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) February 24, 2018
In addition to KBD’s 24 and Kaleb Wesson’s 12, Williams finished with 15 points on the night, Jackson had 13, and Tate had 12 after going scoreless in the first 20 minutes.
The Buckeyes and Hoosiers will return to the hardwood later this week in the Big Ten Tournament. Seedings and matchups will be finalized on Sunday, after all of the conference’s regular season games have been concluded. However, OSU has already earned the coveted double-bye and will begin their postseason on Friday, March 2. IU will begin play on March 1.