Associated Press: Indiana's Aljami Durham blocks a shot by Ohio State's Duane Washington Jr. during the first half of their Big Ten Conference men's tournament game Thursday in Chicago.
Thursday, March 14, 2019 3:10 pm
Indiana falls to Ohio State, 79-75, likely ends NCAA Tournament hopes
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
How it Happened
Ohio State took an early lead and held on to it for most of the first half by employing the same defensive game plan it used when these teams met in Bloomington, packing the lane and forcing Indiana to shoot from the outside. The Hoosiers were cold in the early going (and most of the half) and fell behind 11-5 after Buckeyes big man Kaleb Wesson stepped out and drilled a 3-pointer.
The Hoosiers began clawing their way back into the game as Ohio State went similarly cold from the field.
Indiana worked to get the ball into the post as often as it could and De'Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan employed every low-post move in their arsenals to navigate the physical Buckeye defenders in the post. The Indiana defense wasn't anything spectacular during the IU comeback, but the Buckeyes missed a handful of open looks from the outside and Devonte Green knotted the score with a driving floater to make it 15-all.
The rest of the first half saw the Buckeyes' shooting improve and Indiana give Ohio State far too many chances because of turnovers. The Hoosiers had been stingy with giveaways in their last two games, but were careless against OSU, committing not just turnovers but live-ball turnovers that allowed Ohio State to get out in transition and get some easy baskets.
By halftime, Indiana had turned the ball over 10 times and the Buckeyes had a yawning 17-2 advantage in points off TOs, helping them pull to a 35-28 advantage as the teams headed to the locker room. Indiana was only able to stay in the game during this stretch because of a couple of huge 3s from Green, who scored 11 first-half points, but also committed three turnovers.
The early minutes of the second half were almost all Ohio State. C.J. Jackson exploded for the Buckeyes, scoring eight points in the first 5:02 of the half, including a pair of 3-pointers. When Kaleb Wesson hit a pair of free throws with 13:57 left, the Buckeyes had pushed their lead to 13 at 49-36 and Indiana had its back firmly against the wall.
Ohio State eventually stretched the lead to as many as 20 with seven minutes left and Indiana looked to be finished.
At that point, however, the Hoosiers really woke up for the first time. Green continued his huge game, draining a pair of 3-pointers and Evan Fitzner added a 3 of his own, part of a huge 11-0 run that drew Indiana within nine at 63-54 with 4:56 left and forced the Buckeyes to burn a timeout. It was the first time all day the pro-Indiana fans had some real energy.
The run eventually reached 13-0 before Jackson nailed his third 3-pointer of the half to stretch the lead back to 10 and calm the Buckeyes down. But the Hoosiers kept coming.
With less than 90 seconds left, Romeo Langford drove to the basket and scored to make it 72-67. Ohio State inbounded the ball, but Langford was in perfect position and forced a jump ball, giving the ball back to the Hoosiers. The freshman then scored again in close to make it a three-point game with 56 seconds left.
While all this was happening, Juwan Morgan was languishing on the bench. He went to the sidelines with 6:53 left and didn't return until 18 seconds remained.
After the Hoosiers cut the lead to three, Ohio State used a timeout and out of the break, the ball went into the Robert Woods down low. Woods turned and scored on a jump hook to make it 74-69 with 34 seconds left.
On the other end, Fitzner, playing in Morgan's place crashed through the lane for an offensive foul, and that essentially sealed the game. OSU made enough free throws down the stretch to survive and advance.
Player of the Game: Kaleb Wesson
Wesson missed the previous three games after being suspended for an unspecified violation of athletic department policy, but returned to dominate down low against the Hoosiers. The sophomore scored 17 points on 5 for 15 from the field and added a career-high 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. He also had three blocks and two steals.
Facts and Figures
The Hoosiers are 0-2 in the Big Ten Tournament under Archie Miller.... Both teams entered the game among the "First Four Out" in ESPN's latest mock NCAA Tournament bracket.... The Hoosiers turned the ball over 17 times after giving it away just 13 times in the last two games combined. Ohio State had a 24-6 advantage in points off turnovers.... Indiana has not won more than one game in the Big Ten Tournament since 2002-03.... Morgan scored 12 points, moving him past Tom Bolyard for 29th on the all-time Indiana scoring list.... Romeo Langford scored nine points on 4 for 12 from the field.... Green led Indiana with a career-high 26 points, his second career 20-point performance and first this season. He went 8 for 10 on 3s and added three assists.... Among those in attendance was former Ohio State center and 2007 No. 1 overall NBA Draft choice Greg Oden, who was on the Buckeyes' sideline.
The Hoosiers will wait and see whether they get an invitation to the NIT.