Thursday evening against Iowa, Indiana essentially beat the Hawkeyes without offensive help from Noah Vonleh, who scored just four points and took just two shots. The Hoosiers prevailed 93-86 on the wings of plenty of help from IU's guards driving the lanes and spotting up from range.
But Sunday against Ohio State, the Hoosiers got their first feel of what it might be like without Vonleh in the lineup at all. Just 30 minutes before game time, with speculation looming, Tom Crean tweeted that Vonleh would be held out of Sunday afternoon's game due to inflammation in his foot.
"We will be without Noah Vonleh today. He has foot inflammation and he is not going to go. Help us make up the difference @iucrimsonguard," Crean said on Twitter.
Vonleh had been noticeably absent from IU's preliminary warm-ups, and later he emerged from the locker room with a protective boot, something he has worn a few times this season just for precautionary reasons.
Senior forward Will Sheehey said the team hadn't heard anything about Vonleh's possible absence until Saturday, but they managed to adjust lineups and offensive and defensive schemes.
"We had to space them out," Sheehey said. "Sometimes we had an advantage going small against their big guys, which forced them to go small as well. It worked out well for us."
Sophomore Jeremy Hollowell started in Vonleh's place, getting his first start since Jan. 4, at the five-spot after playing spending much of his time earlier in the season starting in the backcourt with Ferrell. In his place, Hollowell, along with Hanner Mosquera Perea Devin Davis and Jeff Howard combined for 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
But Crean said without Vonleh in the lineup, he had to institute a bit of a different game plan for his smaller lineup, shrinking down the playbook and focusing on rebounding more than they ever had. The Hoosiers still managed to outrebound Ohio State 34-32.
"What it was was more me shrinking what we were going to run, because we really didn't have a lot of time," Crean said. "We didn't keep them out there very long. It was really me just shrinking what we would run. So it was more just adjusting the game plan.
"We didn't try to put a lot of time in making them think about it other than the rebounding."
Hoosiers use 16-0 run to take final lead
Ohio State jumped on IU quickly from the gates, taking a 9-2 lead just after the first media timeout, with points from LaQuinton Ross, Amir Williams and Lenzelle Smith Jr.. The Hoosiers stormed back within 11-9, but Ohio State put on another surge, looking like they had the game under control with under eight minutes to go.
But behind 20-12, IU would go on a 16-0 run, including seven points from Ferrell and five points from Sheehey that put IU ahead for the final 24:34 of the game.
After IU had gotten the lead for good, Austin Etherington and Ross exchanged some words and a shove after the whistle was blown for a foul on Ferrell. Ross had already gotten his first personal less than two minutes before, and after looking at the replay, he was given a technical. For the next several minutes, Ohio State would have to play smaller with Ross on the bench.
And during that time, the biggest thing to Crean during the run was his team's improved defense to thwart the Buckeye attack.
"Bottom line, switching when they went smaller was a big thing for us," Crean said. "We got good shots. There were times we were taking quick shots, and you can't do that against them. You can't run handoffs against them.
"The defense, good shots, good ball movement, continuing to have our break and not trying to rush things was the biggest difference there."
- The Buckeyes shot 0-for-11 from beyond the arc Sunday, ending a streak of 367 games where they had made a 3-pointer. They were also the first team to fail to sink a 3-pointer against the Hoosiers since Jan. 21, 2003, another game against Ohio State, where the Buckeyes shot 0-for-9 from distance. Sunday, of Ohio State's 64 points, 14 came from the charity stripe, and 48 of the other 50 came in the paint – IU giving the Buckeyes just one made jump shot all evening.
- Sunday was IU's second win in a row against a top 25 opponent after beating No. 20 Iowa 93-86 Thursday at home. This season the Hoosiers also took down then-No. 3 Wisconsin Jan. 14 at Assembly Hall, and they beat then-No. 10 Michigan Feb. 2 at home, a team who was previously undefeated in the Big Ten.