BLOOMINGTON – Troy Williams’ no-show in the last game had produced all sorts of drama and doubt. When the cameras weren’t around, when the discussion had died down, Indiana’s athletic forward got angry.
After arguably his worst game in college Monday at Michigan State – when he went scoreless in 17 minutes – Williams put the angst to bed Saturday.
Williams scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 69-66 victory over No. 22 Ohio State in Assembly Hall.
In other words, he did exactly what everyone in the program believes he can.
"He was embarrassed about the way he played," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "He’s got a lot of internal pride, and he’s growing up. He responded to the challenge."
Williams assessed the drastic, needed turnaround.
"I would say my mindset was definitely different," he said. "Going into Michigan State, it was like I was out of it. Just didn’t have any edge."
Against the Buckeyes, Williams’ outward emotion stood out from the early going.
"In this game and the practices that led up to this game, I decided that’s never going to happen again with me," Williams said.
"I’m not going to let my team down again because I know who most gives energy to my team. I came into this game and brought energy to it."
Did he ever.
Williams terrorized Ohio State (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten) on the glass, part of a surprising 48-39 Hoosiers rebounding advantage. They had 16 offensive boards and 19 second-chance points.
The Hoosiers (12-4, 2-1) have defeated Ohio State two straight times and four of the past six matchups.
Crean was looking for a lot more fire from his players, and he got it Saturday.
Perhaps the most fitting sequence of the game came near the middle of the second half when Williams tore down the floor, caught a Yogi Ferrell pass and jammed with the left hand. Seconds later, Williams ran back on defense and emphatically swatted a layup by Keita Bates-Diop.
"We were losing our energy a little bit, and that Troy dunk just brought everybody – it certainly brought our team up," Crean said.
The Hoosiers were not that crisp on offense, shooting 40 percent and missing a slew of 3-pointers while committing 15 turnovers.
On defense, however, Indiana racked up seven blocks and forced non-ideal shots. Ohio State shot 34 percent for the game.
"We were getting good looks in transition, but we didn’t get that job done, either," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. "We short-armed a ton of shots. We had a bad night. It was just not going down."
Hoosiers guard James Blackmon Jr. snapped a two-game offensive slump, finishing with 18 points and seven rebounds. He made 6 of 13 shots after enduring 3-of-23 shooting to start league play.
"I hit the glass, started rebounding, and that got me going," Blackmon said. "I got a couple easy buckets, and then I was back in rhythm."
Indiana led by 11 before settling for a 32-26 halftime edge, and its lead was back to 10 with 3:30 to play.
But the Buckeyes, a little short on fan support with their football team two days from playing for the national title, made Indiana sweat it out.
Ohio State scored on five straight trips, getting within 65-64 and 67-66, before D’Angelo Russell missed a tying 3-pointer at the horn.
Russell, like Blackmon an impact freshman at shooting guard, had 13 points and eight rebounds but shot 3 for 15.
"Our crowd was fantastic," Crean said. "But really, the energy of our team came at the key moment when Troy rebounded and defended."
Notes: Snider sophomore center Malik Williams, who holds an IU scholarship offer, attended the game. Ã¢ Â¦ On the front of general admission tickets was an image of Bob Knight, who graduated from Ohio State in 1962. Ã¢ Â¦ Point guard Shannon Scott led the Buckeyes with 16 points.