For the first time in almost a month, Ohio State’s offense was operating at what felt like full capacity. Kaleb Wesson was scoring inside, C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods were scoring from all over the floor, and even the long-slumping Luther Muhammad found the bottom of the bucket a few times. After being up by as many as 20, the Buckeyes had to withstand a furious Indiana comeback late in the second half on their way to a major win over Indiana 79-75.
Ohio State entered the game at full strength for the first time in three games, with Kaleb Wesson making his return from a suspension. Wesson’s presence and impact was apparent all game long, as Ohio State looked reinvigorated on their way to a massive win that could very well put them into the NCAA tournament.
Block. Catch. Lean back. Pass. Kaleb Wesson makes an impact early for @OhioStateHoops.#B1GTourney X #MarchOnBTN pic.twitter.com/sK8myramgW— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 14, 2019
Outside of Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State found production from grad transfer Keyshawn Woods with his 18 points, and got a solid performance from Kaleb’s big brother Andre Wesson as well. Also crucial was the Buckeyes’ collective defense efforts as they held Indiana’s Romeo Langford in check to just three points in the first half, and nine points on the game.
It was a solid showing for Jackson, Luther Muhammad and Kyle Young as well. Jackson was one of four Buckeyes to finish with double digit points, along with the Wesson brothers and Keyshawn Woods, as Jackson had 17 points of 6-14 shooting.
So, how did this major win go down for the Buckeyes?
It was a slow start for both teams, much to the surprise of, well, no one. Neither team was able to find the bottom of the net consistently in the first few minutes, as the two teams combined for just 11 points in the first four minutes of the game, a three pointer by Romeo Langford, a nice turnaround by Keyshawn Woods, and a midrange jumper by Andre Wesson, along with a couple made free throws to give the Buckeyes an early 8-3 lead.
That slow start also saw a particularly spirited sequence from the Hoosiers, as seemingly every player on their roster took a turn missing a three before the Buckeyes were finally able to corral a rebound.
Out of the game’s first TV timeout, the offensive struggles continued for both teams. They traded turnovers right out of the break, and Langford bricked yet another three before De’ron Davis was finally able to break the Hoosiers nearly four-minute cold streak to cut the deficit to three. Kaleb Wesson and Devonte Green exchanged threes, as both sides dragged to the under-12 timeout, the Buckeyes up three, 11-8.
A great steal by Luther Muhammad and layup by Duane Washington Jr. broke the drought for the Buckeyes, and looked to provide a bit of a spark out of the break, as Kaleb Wesson followed it up with a layup off of a Muhammad assist on the next possession to give the Buckeyes a 15-11 lead.
The small advantage would not last long, however. A layup from Juwan Morgan and a floater from Green tied the game at 15, but an Andre Wesson triple restored the Buckeye lead with about eight minutes to go in the half, 18-15.
It wouldn’t take long for OSU to extend their lead off of yet another Hoosier turnover, with Keyshawn Woods finishing a tough layup at the other end over Morgan. That Buckeye advantage — just as the others had early in the game — looked certain to evaporate quickly. Al Durham added three points the old fashioned way to cut into the five-point difference. However, Ohio State had a answer, as Woods drained a long two on the following possession.
That momentum, unfortunately for the Buckeyes, was crushed almost immediately. Musa Jallow was called for a hook-and-hold under the hoop on the next Hoosier possession, though after a lengthy review, he was assessed just a common foul. The Hoosiers cut the lead to two with the free throws, and tied it less than a minute later with a Morgan layup.
Once again, however, it was the veteran transfer, Woods, with the answer on another long two. That bucket, along with back-to-back baskets by Kyle Young and Andre Wesson seemed to indicate that Ohio State might be ready to pull away, but a Green three and a Buckeye turnover quickly quelled those hopes.
Even with Green consistently answering Buckeye runs, Ohio State still managed to carry a 35-28 lead into the half, thanks to ten turnovers from the Hoosiers, 13 fast break points for the Buckeyes, 17 combined points by the Wesson brothers and an awful first half from Indiana’s star freshman Romeo Langford, and a 13-6 run to finish the half.
If the story of the early first half was missed shots and turnovers, the early second half felt a lot like a tennis match, with each team trading shots. Indiana started the half with a rough first possession, and the Buckeyes answered with their own rough possession, as Kaleb Wesson was unable to finish through contact. He quickly made up for it though with a pretty layup, and opened the second half scoring to give the Buckeyes a nine point lead.
After what felt like 20-straight turnovers, Indiana was finally able to break their drought with two free throws to cut the deficit back to seven. A Jackson three gave Ohio State their largest lead of the game, but once again, Green was able to answer with a three of his own to prevent the run.
Never meant to make your (team) cry @C_Jack13 hits the try to give @OhioStateHoops a double-digit lead.#B1GTourney x #MarchOnBTN pic.twitter.com/OfrXUBesfn— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 14, 2019
However, with Green as their only consistent contributor, IU looked primed to be run out of the building. With a beautiful Jackson floater to extend the lead back to nine, followed by a near Hoosier turnover that forced a timeout, Ohio State looked like they were finally ready to step on the gas.
However, as they had every time that the Buckeyes looked to run away with the lead, Indiana was able to claw their way back to within striking distance. Morgan drew a foul on Young and knocked in a free throw to cut the Buckeye lead back to eight.
On the following possession, Jackson drained yet another three — his second in the span of just about a minute — and Kaleb Wesson followed it up with a pair of free throws to give the Buckeyes their largest lead of the game, 47-34.
Langford quickly hit a jumper for his first make of the half, but the younger Wesson brother added yet another pair of free throws to answer as he started to really establish himself inside.
But, yet again, the Hoosiers came roaring back. A couple quick baskets cut the lead to eight at 49-41, but a beautiful Wesson outlet pass to Jackson put the Buckeyes back up by ten. A Kaleb Wesson layup on the next possession had Ohio State in position to pull away yet again, but another tough layup for Morgan slowed the Buckeye run.
Despite the efforts from Green, Morgan and Rob Phinisee, Ohio State, offense was operating too well for the Hoosiers to close the gap. Muhammad drained a three, Indiana racked up yet another bad turnover, and the Buckeyes looked to be fully in control with just under ten minutes between them and a date with Michigan State tomorrow at noon.
A jumper from Woods, two free throws from Andre Wesson, and yet another three from the suddenly streaky Muhammad later, and the Buckeyes had seemingly completed the run they needed to pull away.
More of this, please, @OhioStateHoops @KeyshawnWoods1. #B1GTourney x #MarchOnBTN pic.twitter.com/kkwoOGhdk3— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 14, 2019
Indiana responded with another Green three, and five straight points from Evan Fitzner to cut the difference back to 12. Another Green three, and the Hoosiers were right back in it, trailing by nine with just under five minutes to go, 63-54.
An Andre Wesson turnover and Davis lay-in had the Buckeyes up by just seven, and staring down a massive blown lead following a Kaleb Wesson offensive foul.
Ohio State again looked to their senior point guards for a response, and found one with a massive Jackson three, though Durham quickly darted to the hoop to negate the big time bucket for Jackson. On the next possession it was Woods’ turn, and he came through with yet another tough jumper.
Indiana answered, yet again (starting to sense a theme here), with a tough bucket at the hoop to cut it to eight, but Woods again stepped up huge and drained a jumper at the shot clock horn to return the favor.
The back and forth showed no signs of slowing down when Davis hit a tough bunny at the bucket, and Indiana opted to send the Buckeyes to the line, trailing by eight with a minute and a half to go.
The Buckeyes, who have struggled with free throws all season long, faltered once again at the line late. Andre Wesson hit both of his, but a Fitzner three, a missed front end for Muhammad, and a Jackson turnover gave the Hoosiers the ball, down just five with a minute to go.
Langford, after 38 cold minutes, finally broke free of his slump, and cut to the hoop for a layup, cutting the deficit to three with under a minute to go, 72-69.
For his 18th points of the game, the embattled senior Woods put in an impossible layup to give the Buckeyes a five point lead.
On the most crucial defensive possession of the game, Wesson came through, drawing a charge on Fitzner and returning the ball to the Buckeyes with 18 seconds left. Duane Washington won a jump ball on the deep inbound pass and threw down a massive dunk, Indiana responded with, you guessed it, another Green three.
Even with Andre Wesson splitting his free throws, the Buckeyes had done enough to withstand a moonshot three from Devonte Green and avoid near disaster on the inbound, as CJ Jackson hit both of his free throws to give the Buckeyes a 79-75 victory.
The Buckeyes will take on the top-seeded Michigan State Spartans in the B1G quarterfinals on Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 p.m. CT.