Since the calendar turned to 2021, Ohio State has been one of the hottest teams in the country, winning eight of their last nine games. Monday night’s 73-65 win over Maryland was not only Ohio State’s fifth straight win, it was also their first win at Maryland since the 1979 NIT.
Early on it looked like Ohio State might be in for a tough test against the Terrapins when they found themselves down 25-19 with just over six minutes to go in the first half. The Buckeyes responded with a 14-1 run, pushing them to a 35-30 lead at halftime.
Ohio State would extend their lead coming out of the break, building a 58-42 lead. The Terrapins wouldn’t be able to recover from the deficit, only cutting the lead to single digits near the end of the game. The performance of Ohio State was even more impressive considering leading scorer E.J. Liddell only netted seven points in the victory, and Justice Sueing wasn’t able to score a point in the game.
Leading the way for Ohio State against Maryland was Kyle Young and Duane Washington Jr., who both scored 18 points. Young’s scoring effort was a career-high, while Washington reached double figures for the second consecutive game after playing through a three-game stretch that saw the junior fail to score more than nine points in a game. Washington’s 14.8 points per game sit just a tenth of a point behind Liddell for the team lead.
Joining Young and Washington in scoring double figures against the Terrapins were Justin Ahrens and C.J. Walker, who each scored 11 points. Ahrens shocked many by actually making a two-point field goal — albeit on accident since his foot was on the line — which was just his second field goal from inside the arc this season. Walker continued to provide a spark off the bench for the Buckeyes, and is shooting 96.6% from the free throw line this year, which ranks second in the country.
Now Ohio State will try and take down an Indiana team who is coming off a 79-76 double overtime win at Northwestern on Wednesday. This was not only Indiana’s fifth overtime game of the year, it was also their second double overtime contest this season. The Hoosiers are 2-3 in overtime games.
Indiana fell behind by 14 points early, spending the rest of the game playing catchup. The Hoosiers were able to trim the deficit to 23-20 by halftime, but Northwestern was able to create a little separation in the second half before Indiana reeled off a 7-0 run with two minutes to go, capped off by a jumper by Al Durham with 24 seconds remaining to tie the game at 54 and force overtime.
The Hoosiers would need another comeback in the first overtime, scoring six points in the final 1:05 of the first extra session. Durham again was the hero for Indiana, hitting a jumper as time expired to force a second overtime. The Hoosiers would take the lead for good on a pair of Rob Phinisee free throws with just under two minutes to go, handing the Wildcats their 10th straight loss. Archie Miller’s team would end up leading in regulation and the first overtime for just 14 total seconds before taking over in the second overtime.
Durham was the hero of the game for Indiana, not only hitting the clutch shots to force two overtimes, but finishing the game with a career-high 24 points. Wednesday’s game marked just the third time the senior had reached 20 points in a game for the Hoosiers, and the first time he had hit that mark in a Big Ten game. Durham is currently Indiana’s third-leading scorer on the season, averaging 11.4 points per game.
Armaan Franklin also had a big game for Indiana on Wednesday, tying his career-high with 23 points, a personal mark he had set earlier this year against Illinois. After seeing just 13.8 minutes per game in his first year with Indiana last season, the sophomore has become a fixture in the starting lineup of the Hoosiers this year, starting 15 of Indiana’s 17 games. Franklin is averaging 12.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game.
While Franklin was on the court for a team-high 44 minutes on Wednesday, right behind him was leading scorer Trayce Jackson-Davis, who played 43 minutes in the double overtime victory. The sophomore finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, notching his third double-double in a row, and eighth on the season. Following a solid first season in crimson and cream, Jackson-Davis has been even better this year, averaging nearly a double-double with 19.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Indiana has had a bit of a strange season. Along with all the overtime games, the Hoosiers have not won more than two games in a row at any point, but they also have not lost more than two games in a row. With the Hoosiers now riding a two-game winning streak, trends say Indiana is due for a loss today. Should the Hoosiers be able to buck the trend, they’ll improve their all-time record against Ohio State to 107-82, with a 54-37 mark in Columbus.
Even though Indiana has gotten the better of Ohio State in the all-time series, the Buckeyes have gotten the better end of the results recently. Ohio State has won five of the last six meetings with the Hoosiers, with the teams splitting last year’s games. Indiana has given Ohio State all they can handle during that span though, as the Buckeyes last four wins in the series have been by nine points or less.
Ohio State does have a bit of an edge heading into today’s game since they haven’t played since Monday, while Indiana had to expend a lot of energy in their comeback win in double overtime at Northwestern on Wednesday. The Buckeyes having a little more depth than the Hoosiers could help Ohio State out, as they’ll be able to throw some fresher bodies at Jackson-Davis and the rest of the Hoosiers.
The outstanding depth of the Buckeyes will also help since it can provide some coverage if their top scorers are having an off night, as evidenced by what Ohio State was able to do against Maryland even though Liddell and Sueing played their worst games of the season. Even with the subpar efforts, the Buckeyes didn’t have to sweat out a win against the Terrapins with others able to pick up the slack.
The Buckeyes can’t sleep on Indiana though, as the Hoosiers have beaten Iowa twice in the last month. Indiana is even competitive in their losses, with six of their eight setbacks being by nine points or less. The Hoosiers can compete with anyone in the Big Ten, and they know a win against Ohio State on the road could go a long way in stating their case that they belong in the NCAA Tournament.
This game is going to come down to coaching. Chris Holtmann has had Archie Miller’s number since the two coaches arrived in the Big Ten. There’s no question that Holtmann is one of the best coaches in the country, while the jury is still out on if Miller is the right man for the job in Bloomington.
The Buckeyes earn their sixth straight win against a tough Indiana team who will give the Buckeyes all they can handle. Ohio State knows how important this game is, especially with the closing schedule to the regular season that the Buckeyes have. Ohio State has put themselves in a position to earn a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a win today would help to strengthen their case a little more.
ESPN BPI: Ohio State 72.2%
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