Bloomington – Indiana reaffirmed a couple of things during Saturday afternoon's 93-81 loss to Ohio State.
First of all, it showed that it's capable of losing a double-digit lead as fast as anyone. The Hoosiers raced to a 24-12 lead midway through the first half only to watch the Buckeyes answer with a 18-4 flurry of their own to take a two-point lead six minutes later.
The Indiana fan base showed it will continue to show up in masse despite an IU losing streak that has reached a school-record 11 games. A season-high and raucous crowd of 17,202 didn't act like there little other than a chance to avoid infamy on the line, whistling like a loyal fanbase should when instructed not to by public address announcer Chuck Crabb and bellowing for the Hoosiers and at the Buckeyes for a solid two hours.
Tom Crean, meanwhile, showed he desperately wants to win a game not so much for himself, but for his young team that is compiling a resume full of near misses in recent weeks. Crean implored his team, worked the referees and even had a brief exchange with Ohio State Coach Thad Matta that resulted in the officials bringing the two coaches together at the start of the second half.
But by the time the final horn sounded, his Hoosiers once again showed they're capable of competing with just about anyone in the conference, but still don't have what it takes to win a Big Ten basketball game.
Despite a school-record nine 3-pointers and 29 points from Matt Roth off the bench, Indiana dropped its 11th straight game to fall to 5-15 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten. The losing streak matches the longest losing skid in school history set during the 1943-44 season.
The setback ruined what was otherwise a career night for Roth, who made 9-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc to equal Rod Wilmont's school record set against Northwestern in 2007. It also marked the first time a Big Ten freshman had ever made nine 3-pointers in a game.
"I wanted him to keep shooting because I was thinking this is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," said Ohio State Coach Thad Matta.
While Ohio State couldn't figure out a way to stop Roth, the Hoosiers couldn't figure out a way to stop just about everyone on the OSU roster, particularly in the second half. The Buckeyes shot 63 percent for the game and 76 percent in the second half to help them overcome a two-point halftime deficit and complete a season sweep of IU.
Evan Turner led the way for the Buckeyes with 29 points and 10 rebounds, including 17 in the first half. Jon Diebler, meanwhile, bounced back from a three-point first half to score 18 in the second half, including four 3-pointers. Indiana opted to use a box-and-one on Diebler for a good portion of the game, but he and Turner both still managed to put up huge numbers against the Hoosiers.
"We wanted to make it as hard for Diebler as we could," Crean said. "We did in the first half, and it wasn't as hard for him in the second half."
One of Diebler's biggest plays, though, wasn't a 3-pointer that he hit but a foul that he drew on an attempt from behind the 3-point arc with OUS leading 61-60 midway through the second half. Diebler made all three free throws, starting a 12-2 Buckeye run that pushed the lead to 11, 73-62, with 6:44 remaining.
"He had great patience, great flow," Matta said of Diebler. "They were playing a box and one on him…he has good size and a pretty good athlete. When he comes off those screens he's 6-5, 6-6 and he can elevate."
While Indiana had a hard enough time trying to keep up with a Buckeye team that Crean considers one of the toughest match-ups in the Big Ten, the Hoosier coach wasn't overly enamored with the fact that his team was whistled for seven more fouls and that OSU attempted 12 more free throws.
Crean voiced his displeasure with various calls on a couple of different occasions, and didn't necessarily appreciate the retort he received from one official.
"I had a referee tell me tonight, ‘this isn't my first rodeo,'" Crean said. "Well, it's not mine, either…there are times out there it feels like it."
While some of the calls and the end result might have left a sour taste in his mouth, the Hoosiers continue to knock on the door of picking up their first Big Ten win. Matta is among those who thinks the victory isn't far away.
"Knowing Tom, he wants it more for his kids than he wants it for himself," Matta said. "And he will – there's no question there are wins coming."
Pritchard 2-8 5-7 9, Taber 2-2 0-0 4, Jones 3-10 1-3 9, Williams 4-9 3-4 11, Dumes 5-13 0-0 13, Roth 9-11 2-2 29, Moore 0-0 1-2 1, Lewis 0-1 0-0 0, Story 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 27-57 12-18 81.
OHIO STATE 93
Turner 10-14 9-10 29, Lauderdale 0-0 0-1 0, Simmons 5-8 4-5 17, Diebler 6-8 4-6 21, Buford 8-12 6-6 24, Hill 0-0 2-2 2, Madsen 0-2 0-0 0, Mullens 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 29-46 25-30 93.
3-Pointers: Indiana 15-28 (Roth 9-11, Dumes 3-8, Jones 2-6, Story 1-2, Williams 0-1), Ohio State 10-17 (Diebler 5-7, Simmons 3-5, Buford 2-3, Turner 0-2). Rebounds: Indiana 25 (Pritchard 6, Jones 6, Williams 6), Ohio State 26 (Turner 10). Assists: Indiana 20 (Jones 6), Ohio State 17 (Simmons 8). Turnovers: Indiana 15, Ohio State 17. Blocks: Indiana 2, Ohio State 4. Steals: Indiana 8, Ohio State 7. Officials: Donnee Gray, Glenn Mayborg, Eugene Crawford. Attendance: 17,202.
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