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Ohio State uses late surge to survive Indiana comeback in 80-69 victory

The latest example of #TheOhioStateMensBasketballExperience ends up going OSU’s way.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Ohio State (17-7, 10-5) was out muscled, efforted, and rebounded during their loss to Iowa on Saturday night. After the game, head coach Chris Holtmann said that Iowa, “Beat them to a lot of loose balls,” and, “Played with a lot more force than we did.”

After giving up a season-high 20 offensive rebounds, how would the Buckeyes respond just two days later as they welcomed the Indiana Hoosiers into the Value City Arena?

Roughly seven weeks ago, the Buckeyes were out-muscled in a similar way during their 67-51 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers (16-10, 7-9) in Bloomington on Jan. 6. The Buckeyes hung around for roughly 32 minutes, but Indiana was able to pull away in a big way in the closing minutes, winning by 16. The Hoosiers out-rebounded Ohio State 41-33 that day and grabbed 11 on the offensive end. On the season, the Buckeyes are 12th in the Big Ten in rebounding.

In Monday night’s rematch, Holtmann stuck with the same starting lineup that he’s used during the last three games which has delivered a 2-1 record over that time. Jamari Wheeler and Malaki Branham started at guard, while Eugene Brown, E.J. Liddell, and Zed Key started at forward, forward, and center.

First-year IU head coach Mike Woodson went with a starting lineup of Parker Stewart, Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis — who scored 27 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds against Ohio State last month. Tonight, TJD finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds, coming up just short of a double-double.

This one started out a little clunky, with Indiana turning the ball over four times during the first 4:18 of the game — three of them courtesy of Johnson. The Buckeyes didn’t turn those turnovers into any points, however, and trailed Indiana 6-5 at the first media timeout. The Hoosiers missed a grand opportunity to open up a nice lead early going due to their own self-inflicted wounds.

Thanks to an early burst from Brown, the Buckeyes were able to jump out to a 15-12 lead at the second media timeout in the first half. Brown scored seven of Ohio State’s first 15 points over the opening 8:25 of the game — the most points he’d scored since Ohio State’s loss to Purdue on Jan. 30. Brown would finish with 10 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and three steals.

Thanks to a balanced offense attack (if you want to call it that) from Meechie Johnson, Brown, and Branham, the Buckeyes took a 26-22 lead into the final media timeout of the half at the 3:48 mark. Liddell struggled mightily over the first 20 minutes, scoring just two points in the first 16:12 of play on 1-of-6 shooting.

The Buckeyes held a 33-28 halftime lead, with Branham leading the Buckeyes with an even 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting. He also grabbed three rebounds and had a steal. Jackson-Davis led all Hoosiers in the opening half with 10 points and six rebounds. Ohio State shot 44% over the opening 20 minutes, while the Hoosiers hit at a 40% clip. There were 10 lead changes during the first half.

Thanks to a whole lot of Branham and a whole lot of missed free throws by Indiana, the Buckeyes were able to open up a 51-41 lead at the 11:49 mark of the second half. Branham scored seven straight points for the Buckeyes in what was one of his most impressive games of the season. Jackson-Davis also missed four consecutive free throws in the second half, making it even tougher for the Hoosiers to close that 10-point gap.

However, after going down by 10, the Hoosiers went on a 13-4 run over a five-minute span that cut Ohio State’s lead to just one point. Kopp came on strong in the second half after a quiet first 20 minutes, and the momentum began swinging back towards IU. Ohio State clung to a 55-54 lead with 7:11 remaining. Kopp would finish with seven points on 2-8 shooting in 29 minutes.

But the Buckeyes went on another late-game cold streak, going over four minutes straight without scoring and allowing Indiana to charge back and take a late lead at the Schott. Tamar Bates’ triple with 5:09 left in the game gave Indiana a 59-55 lead.

But the Buckeyes tied it on a Liddell dunk that was perfectly dished from Branham below the basket, 63-63, with five seconds remaining. Johnson brought the ball down for Indiana and hoisted up the potential game-winner, but it was contested by Branham and fell well short, forcing overtime.

The two teams went punch for punch in overtime, with the Buckeyes taking the lead multiple times and Indiana swinging back nearly every time. But Branham’s turn-around jumper with 1:07 remaining gave Ohio State a 74-69 lead, and they did not relinquish it. The Buckeyes pulled it out in overtime, 80-69.

The Buckeyes were led by Branham’s game-high 27 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Xavier Johnson led Indiana with 16 points. Ohio State shot 48.1% overall, while IU finished at 34.4%. The teams tied in rebounds at 38, with Indiana not grabbing a single rebound during the overtime period.

If you weren’t around tonight to catch Ohio Sate’s heart-stopping overtime thriller, here’s a few of the key plays and moments that carried the Buckeyes to their tenth B1G victory of the season.


Back and forth affair

Neither team was able to find its rhythm early, and it looked like we were destined for a low-scoring affair. When the under-12 media timeout rolled around, Ohio State had pulled ahead 15-12 on the back of seven early points from Brown — yep, Eugene Brown. Through the first eight minutes of this game, there were seven lead changes.


Stewart’s triple closes the gap

With 8:42 remaining in the first half, and Ohio State leading 17-12, Stewart rose up over Jamari Wheeler and buried a three-pointer just a few steps in front of Holtmann. With Jackson-Davis on the bench, the Buckeyes were looking to extend their lead — but Stewart clearly had other ideas.

It was contested well by Wheeler, but with the shot clock ticking down, Stewart made the executive decision to let it rip. It cut Ohio State’s lead to just a pair at the under-eight media timeout.


Stewart buries another, takes the lead

One minute after cutting Ohio State’s lead to two points, Stewart buried another three-pointer from the opposite side of the court that was just as contested as the first. His bucket suddenly gave Indiana an 18-17 lead, the 10th lead change of the first half.

Stewart finished the game with 11 points on 4-9 shooting, including 3-4 from three-point land.


Meechie’s (very) short memory

Moments later, Johnson got Indiana’s Anthony Leal to bite on a shot fake from the far side corner, and then shot a triple once the space was clear. It rimmed out, and Kyle Young was able to corral the board.

Leal went for the rebound on the play rather than boxing out Johnson, leaving him open. Young kicked it back out to Johnson in the same spot, who hoisted another triple. And missed again.

But on the very next possession, Branham blocked a Stewart layup, brought it down the floor himself, and found Johnson on the right wing for his third three-point attempt in the past 28 seconds. Third time proved in fact to be the charm as he nailed his third attempt, giving Ohio State a 20-18 lead with 6:46 remaining in the first half.

Meechie Johnson finished with five points and an assist over 18 minutes.


Branham cooks in TJD’s kitchen

Already Ohio State’s leading scorer with 10 points early in the second half, Branham dribbled around Kopp on the perimeter and up the baseline towards Jackson-Davis with 16:10 remaining in the game. TJD leapt up in the air to block Branham’s shot, but the Buckeyes’ budding star ignored the leaping Jackson-Davis and opted for a reverse layup instead, scoring around Indiana’s big man.

Branham is the second-best three-point shooter in the Big Ten and loves a good mid-range jumper, but he’s adept at slashing to the basket, too. His bucket gave Ohio State a 44-36 lead, their largest of the game to that point.


Branham with the punch back (figurative, of course)

After Stewart swished another three-pointer — his third of the night — to cut Ohio State’s lead to seven points, Branham demanded the ball and came down the other way and buried an identical one of his own.

Did he want to one-up Stewart? Perhaps, but either way it put the Buckeyes back up 49-39 with 15 minutes left in the game. Branham went 1-2 from beyond the arc.


Brown with the block of the season?

It didn’t have a ton of relevance in the outcome of this game, but after Young got bumped off the block and lost the ball with no foul called, IU’s Johnson raced down the floor and attempted a fast-break dunk.

However, Brown had other ideas as he hawked Johnson down on a dead sprint and spiked his shot into the first row of seats. This prevented a free Indiana bucket and kept Ohio state’s lead at 53-48 with 9:22 left in the game.


Tamar Bates gets Indiana within one

After going down 51-41 with 12:06 remaining, the Hoosiers went on a 13-4 run over the next 4:55 that was capped off by a Tamar Bates layup — his first bucket of the day. The Buckeyes’ lead was cut down to 55-54 with 7:11 left in the game and all the momentum began swinging towards Bloomington, Indiana.


TJD takes the lead at the line

On the possession following the Bates layup, Jackson-Davis was fouled by Key in the post on a hand-check. Despite his earlier trouble at the line, TJD knocked down both. The Hoosiers took a 56-55 lead with 6:35 remaining in the game.


The lefty does it again

After going scoreless in the first half, Bates had the layup that got the Hoosiers within one point with 7:11 remaining in the game and then canned a three-pointer from in front of the Hoosier bench with 5:09 remaining to give Indiana a 59-55 lead. IU went on a 14-2 lead to go from down big to having a late lead on the road.

Bates finished with seven points on 3-11 shooting over 25 minutes.


Liddell’s slam forces OT with five seconds left

Down two points with 12 seconds left in the game, Branham drove to the basket and drew three IU defenders — all trying to prevent the freshman from sending the game to OT. Who they somehow forgot about was Liddell, who snuck under the basket away from Jackson-Davis. Branham dished around the defenders to Liddell, who slammed it home with five seconds remaining, sending this game to overtime, 63-63.

Liddell finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists over 43 minutes.


Wheeler breaks the tie in OT

Tied 67-67 with 2:58 to go in overtime, Branham found Wheeler in front of the Ohio State bench for a long pass and an open three, which Wheeler nailed. It gave the Buckeyes a 70-67 lead, their first lead in over 10 minutes.

Wheeler finished with eight points on 2-6 shooting over 30 minutes.


Have a day, Malaki Branham!

Up three points with 1:07 remaining in the game, Branham backed down Stewart in the post before spinning and shooting a one-legged jumper near the free throw line. He buried it, giving Ohio State a five-point lead with 67 ticks left in the game — 74-69.

Branham finished with 27 points on 9-13 shooting over 39 minutes. He also had five rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line.


Up Next:

No. 22 Ohio State (17-7, 10-5) hits the road Thursday night for a massive showdown against No. 15 Illinois (19-7, 12-4) in Champaign. The Fighting Illini shook off a tough loss to Rutgers last week with an impressive road win over Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday evening, 79-74. Illinois is tied for second-place in the Big Ten, just half of a game behind Purdue. A Buckeye win over Illinois would be a major blow to the Illini’s B1G title hopes, and a huge boost to Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament resume.

The Ohio State - Illinois matchup is the only regular season meeting between the two teams this season. The game tips off at 9:00 pm E.T. and will be broadcast on FS1.