Monroe Accepts Buckeyes' Challenge

Bloomington, Ind. – Ohio State Coach Thad Matta was not about to let D.J. White or Robert Vaden beat his Buckeyes when they traveled to Assembly Hall to take on the No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers - instead he decided to take his chances with Lewis Monroe.

Bloomington, Ind. – Ohio State Coach Thad Matta was not about to let D.J. White or Robert Vaden beat his Buckeyes when they traveled to Assembly Hall to take on the No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers - instead he decided to take his chances with Lewis Monroe.

After all, Monroe was averaging less than five points per game and had shied away from countless open shots all season. But the senior took the Buckeyes' bait, knocked down some shots, and turned in his best game as a Hoosier with 11 second-half points and six assists to help Indiana to the come-from-behind win.

"Lewis Monroe played his best game here tonight," said Indiana head coach Mike Davis. "That's the Monroe that we expect to play every game at that level of play. Tonight he did a great job in the second half of pushing the ball in transition."

After a quiet first half that included zero points and one assist in seven minutes, Monroe broke out in the second with 3-of-5 shooting including 2-of-3 on 3-point attempts as he tallied a season high.

Early in the first half the Buckeyes were daring Monroe to shoot. Coming into the game Monroe had attempted just 34 shots compared to his 38 assists, something Ohio State Matta thought he could exploit.

"He had close to as many shots as assists on the season and we felt like making him make the plays," said Matta. "He got going there a couple times in the second half and it hurt us."

Monroe found himself open on many occasions and even guarded at times by OSU big men. Instead of taking himself and the Hoosiers out of the offense by taking too many jump shots, Monroe instead took it as an opportunity to penetrate and pick up five second-half assists, including one on a behind-the-back pass to Marco Killingsworth in the paint.

"They put what seemed like their worst defender or a big man on me so they could double-down on D.J. or Marco the whole game," said Monroe. "They were just daring me to shoot the ball, but I wasn't going to get to the point where you start jacking up shots and get out of the offense. I just took my time, ran the offense and looked to myself to open up some other things."

Monroe came out of the locker room ready to get his team moving. On Indiana's first three possessions of the second half Monroe found Vaden once and Marshall Strickland twice for open 3-point attempts that narrowed Ohio State's 8-point half time lead to three less than two minutes into the second half.

"Lewis stepped up big for us," said Killingsworth. "I told Lewis it was time for him to play, show people what he can do. He was hitting shots, passing, rebounding. He played real well for us."

Monroe made his first basket of the game just over five minutes into the second half when he used a Killingsworth pick to get into the lane for an easy layup. He followed that up with an assist on the next possession as Strickland knocked down an important three to help the Hoosiers keep pace with the Buckeyes.

"The main thing I was doing in the second half was being a lot more aggressive," said Monroe. "Coach Davis told me I had to be more aggressive, show that team you can play. That's what I was trying to do.

"It definitely helped with my confidence when I knocked down that first shot. That helped me for the rest of the second half and I just got more and more aggressive."

Monroe looked like he lost his effectiveness with just less than nine minutes to go in the game when he tried to force a pass to Vaden in the paint that was picked off by OSU's Ron Lewis. Monroe chased Lewis on the fast break and fouled him on the ensuing layup attempt.

Instead of letting the play stick in his head on the next possession, Monroe drove down the lane and threw the ball behind his back to the wide-open Killingsworth for an easy layup and followed that with his second 3-pointer on the next possession to give Indiana a momentary two-point lead.

"That pass was something that came naturally to me in the flow of the game," said Monroe. "I don't think Marco has seen that in so long that he probably wasn't even expecting that."

While being overshadowed for much of the season by fellow-transfer Killingsworth, Monroe has slowly shown how important he is to Mike Davis and his basketball team.

"Lewis is good," said Davis. "I know a lot of people don't remember when we talked about our basketball team after seeing Lewis practice last year. We always thought that's the first true point guard we've had in a while. I think the Duke game set him back a little bit because he walked out to a packed house on national television and he didn't perform up to his level. He said he was getting phone calls from everyone about that game. That was tough on him.

"But tonight it was the best thing that could've happened when they didn't defend him. That's like an insult to a player." Top Stories