Friday, February 23, 2018 11:00 pm
No. 16 Ohio State 80, Indiana 78, 2 OT: Quick thoughts
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON – How it Happened: Indiana (16-14, 9-9 Big Ten) opened the game playing tenaciously on defense and under the glass. The Hoosiers held their own with the Buckeyes in the early minutes, but the game turned into a foul-fest midway through the half. Ohio State embarked on an 8-0 run to take a 17-10 lead, giving it the first separation of either team on the night.
The biggest problem for the Hoosiers defensively was the re-emergence of Keita Bates-Diop as one of the top scorers in the Big Ten. After scoring just six points against Rutgers and failing to reach his 19-point average in five straight games, the junior forward poured in 13 points in the first half on 4-for-11 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds, giving him 20 boards in three halves of basketball against the Hoosiers this season. Worse for Indiana, all of his baskets were well-timed, either extending Buckeye runs or stopping IU momentum. When he hit a 3-pointer with 8:19 left in the half, Ohio State led 22-14 and it eventually extended that lead to 26-14.
After a long stretch of stagnant offense, however, the Hoosiers slowly began creeping back into the game. An 8-0 run, punctuated by a huge dunk from Justin Smith off a missed Josh Newkirk layup sliced the deficit to four and got the crowd into the game for the first time. In the final minutes of the half, Aljami Durham and Josh Newkirk hit back-to-back triples and Durham followed with a runner through a foul. The flurry helped the Hoosiers go into the break tied at 33 after holding the Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3) to 40 percent shooting and making six of their final eight shots in the half.
Despite Indiana going into the half with all the momentum, the Buckeyes opened the second session with a 10-3 run to take command again. During this stretch, they made five baskets in six attempts, with all five baskets coming from different players. The Hoosiers simply made it too easy to get to the rim and missed several open looks on the other end as the Buckeyes opened a 43-36 lead. Indiana's only basket in the first four minutes of the half was a 3-pointer from Zach McRoberts.
Indiana didn't let the game get out of hand, however. Juwan Morgan picked up his third foul and went to the bench, but the Hoosiers held their own without him and he returned shortly thereafter. Archie Miller decided to gamble with putting him back in the game so soon, and he rewarded Miller's faith with solid defense in the post. He also squeezed a pass through a double-team on the block to a wide-open Smith for a dunk. It was one of several nifty baskets the Hoosiers scored during this stretch, as they remained in the game and trimmed the deficit to three at 48-45 with 11:47 left.
The teams traded baskets over the next handful of minutes, with a couple of highlight-reel dunks from Smith keeping the crowd involved and energized. Indiana tied the game multiple times, but couldn't quite get over the hump as the Buckeyes answered every time they needed a basket. The Hoosiers refused to go away, however, and continued to run good, patient offense, working the ball around for good shots. When McRoberts hit a second 3, Indiana trailed only 59-57 with less than six minutes to go.
The Hoosiers went ahead for the first time since early in the game when Robert Johnson passed to Josh Newkirk in transition and he laid the ball home to make it 61-59 with 3:37 left. The basket ended a 7-0 IU run that saw the Buckeyes go scoreless for 2:50. The prevailing theme for a long stretch of the second half was Indiana making simple plays on offense. Newkirk, who has been out of control with the ball at times this year, especially played within himself and made basic plays to help his team. Even on the go-ahead layup, he got the ball and steadied himself instead of forcing a shot.
The Hoosiers had a chance to win the game at the end, but Johnson couldn't find the range on a driving layup and the game headed to extra time.
The teams went back and forth early in the extra session, with McRoberts playing a starring role. The former walk-on tipped out a huge offensive rebound and then scored on a strong drive to the hoop that sent him sprawling. The Buckeyes stayed on top, however, thanks to Kaleb Wesson, who was too strong for the Hoosiers down low. He had the first five Ohio State points in the overtime, as his job was made easier by Morgan's reluctance to foul because he already had four. In the final moments, Johnson hit two clutch free throws to even the score again, sending the game to a second overtime.
The second extra session was a seesaw battle the entire time. Wesson fouled out midway through the overtime, but Ohio State found ways to score anyway, answering every Indiana thrust. Morgan was the best offensive weapon for IU, continually planting himself down low and forcing the Buckeyes to foul him. He scored six points in the period, including a go-ahead basket with seven seconds left. He would have been the hero if the Buckeyes' C.J. Jackson hadn't buried a 3 with a second remaining to give his team the win.
Player of the Game: Keita Bates-Diop
Even in defeat, Bates-Diop was the best player on the court for most of the night. The Hoosiers did a good job against him defensively, holding him to 9-for-24 shooting, but he still piled up 24 points to lead all scorers. The 6-foot-7 forward was also a force on the glass, pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking two shots in a near copy of his first performance against the Hoosiers in January. It was his 12th double-double of the season.
Facts & figures
Indiana falls to 1-7 against ranked teams. IU is 1-1 in overtime games this season. ... Kaleb Wesson hit his first shot, giving him eight makes in a row this season against the Hoosiers before he missed. ... Indiana was outrebounded 41-35, giving the Buckeyes a plus-19 advantage on the glass in two games against IU this season. ... Johnson finished with 17 points, tying him with Jimmy Rayl for 22nd on the all-time IU scoring list. ... Justin Smith scored 16 points, the fourth straight game he's scored in double figures. ... Devonte Green was held scoreless after scoring a career-high 20 last time against the Buckeyes. ... Josh Newkirk scored nine points and added six assists. ... Indiana went 13 for 23 at the free-throw line.
The Hoosiers will wait and see what happens between Penn State and Nebraska before knowing their seed for the Big Ten Tournament. If the Cornhuskers win, Indiana winds up at No. 6. If the Nittany Lions earn their 20th win, they'll be sixth and the Hoosiers will be No. 7. Either way, the Hoosiers will play Thursday night in the second round of the tournament.