Scouting Report: Ohio State

After losing to Penn State on the road, the Buckeyes will be coming to Assembly Hall looking to rebound. The Hoosiers will have their hands full with the toughest defense in the Big Ten and have to try and succeed in a much different pace than they played against Iowa Thursday.

Here's a look at Sunday's Indiana opponent:

Ohio State Buckeyes (22-7, 9-7)

Last time out: L, 65-63 at Penn State Thursday

The Buckeyes jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half at the Bryce Jordan Center, but Penn State continued to chip away and edged out Ohio State, pulling off a 65-63 victory at home to sweep the season series.

Sam Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 17:11 left in the first half to put his Buckeyes up 10-2, and just over eight minutes later, his team had extended the lead to 22-11 with just under nine minutes left in the half. The Nittany Lions, though, hampered down on defense, giving up just six more points in the half while D.J. Newbill, Ross Travis and Tim Frazier led the charge to get within two at halftime.

Ohio State scored a quick five points out of the gate, but Newbill hit five free throws during a 7-0 Penn State run that knotted it up with 17:05 left for the first tie of the game. The Buckeyes scored the next bucket, and from there, they would never do better than tie the rest of the way.

LaQuinton Ross led the Buckeyes with 19 points and six rebounds, followed by 10 from Aaron Craft. As a team, Ohio State shot just 42.6 percent from the field and just 29.4 percent from beyond the arc while getting hammered on the boards, 34-25.

2012-13 season

Record: (29-8, 13-5 in the Big Ten Conference)

Ohio State highlighted its season with a Big Ten Tournament victory and made a long run in the NCAA Tournament, but the team fell short of the promise land, falling to Wichita State 70-66 in the Elite Eight in Los Angeles.

To start the season, the Buckeyes played a fairly weak non-conference schedule, highlighted by just two games against high-caliber opponents, Duke and Kansas – games which they lost both of. They finished on-conference play with a 10-2 record.

After a conference-season opening beating given to Nebraska, the Buckeyes fell to Illinois on the road by 19 points. They rebounded with a road win against Purdue and home victory against Michigan before another road loss to Michigan State.

Ohio State ran off four in a row before a two-game losing streak to Michigan and Indiana. They lost to Wisconsin two games later before finishing the regular season on a five-game run.

In the conference tournament, the Buckeyes beat Nebraska and Michigan State to make it to the finals against Wisconsin, where they clinched the title with a defensive battle, 50-43. After an easy win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed against Iona, the Buckeyes won their next two against Iowa State and Arizona by just three points each before falling to the Shockers.

What they do well:

After keeping up with the fast-paced Iowa offense Thursday evening at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers will have to regroup for one of their toughest offensive challenges in a much different aspect. Ohio State comes to Bloomington with arguably the top defensive squad in the Big Ten, limiting its opponents to just 58.4 points per game and 39.9 percent shooting from the floor.

To slow down the pace, the Buckeyes get up in their opponents' faces, making ball control and swift, precise passes that much more important. Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in steals with 7.5 per game, led by Craft who could become the all-time Big Ten leader in steals with four more this season. They lead the conference in turnover margin, forcing their opponents into 14.3 while averaging just 10.9 themselves.

Star players:

F LaQuinton Ross, Jr.

Ross has taken on a much bigger role this season, acting as the main scoring option on the team for Craft to feed the ball to. He's playing more than 10 more minutes per game than last season while scoring 14.4 points per game off 43.6 shooting from the floor and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.

At 6-foot-8 inches, he also nearly leads the team in rebounds with 5.7 boards per game. He's a dynamic scorer big enough to post up down low but also draw IU's players out to the perimeter, making him a threat all around the court.

G Aaron Craft, Sr.

Craft has been known for several years for his defensive prowess, frustrating guards around the Big Ten with his quick hands and swift feet. Tom Crean brought up ball handling, control and protection numerous times during his press conference Saturday and although the rest of Ohio States' roster on defense is tough to handle, Craft leads the charge.

He uses that quickness on the offensive end, too, scoring 9.5 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting from the floor as well as 36.6 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Yogi Ferrell and the rest of IU's young guards will have their hands full with Craft, and players who aren't being guarded by him will have to keep their eye on him at all times to make sure he doesn't make a sharp move to steal the ball from them too.


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