There are painful lessons to be learned for any young basketball team in the Big Ten, and Ohio State left Indiana doubled over in pain Wednesday night.
Six days after the season's biggest win, Indiana suffered its most humbling loss to date with a 79-54 drubbing at the hands of the Buckeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Indiana's highlights – or perhaps, highlight – came in the opening minute of the game, when Verdell Jones laid a pick on Evan Turner to free Jeremiah Rivers for a drive to the bucket and an uncontested dunk. That gave IU a 2-0 lead 47 seconds in, and prompted OSU Coach Thad Matta to call an immediate timeout.
From there on out, it was all Ohio State (11-4/1-2), as Indiana clearly failed in its first true road test of the season. But IU Coach Tom Crean wasn't interested in using that as an excuse for what he witnessed.
"I know the easy thing to say would be, ‘hey, we're on the road for the first time and all that,'" Crean said. "But I'm not interested in any of that."
Aided by 14 first-half Indiana turnovers, Ohio State blitzed the Hoosiers with a 22-2, eight-minute first half run that gave the Bucks a 31-8 lead. While the Hoosiers (7-7/1-1) were turning the ball over with regularity, Jon Diebler, William Buford and P.J. Hill were all knocking down 3s to spur a flurry that ended any doubt about this game's outcome.
That lead would eventually balloon to as many as 31 in the second half as Ohio State produced its most lopsided win over Indiana since John Havlicek, John Lucas and Bob Knight led the Buckeyes to a 90-65 win on March 10, 1962.
Ohio State mounted its game-deciding first-half assault despite getting very little from arguably its two best players, Evan Turner and David Lighty. Turner, who returned to the court for the first time since breaking two bones in his lower back Dec. 5, was limited to three first-half points and nine minutes due to two fouls. Lighty, meanwhile, had only two first-half points of his own thanks to a couple of early fouls.
Their absence was hardly noticed. Diebler made 5-of-8 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 21 points, while William Buford added 16 and a team-high six assists. Turner finished with eight points, four rebounds and five assists.
Indiana, meanwhile, was clearly frustrated and confounded by Ohio State's defense all night long its way to 34 shooting overall (18-of-53) and a 4-of-18 effort from 3-point range. Verdell Jones led Indiana with 22 points, although all but six of those points coming in the second half after the game was decided. Christian Watford added 11, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half that finally brought an ended to OSU's 22-2 run.
While the shooting struggles were an issue, it paled to the turnovers. After turning the ball over only once in the final 28 minutes of last week's 71-65 win over Michigan, Tom Crean's team turned the ball over a season-high 24 times compared to only nine assists. Jeremiah Rivers and Watford both turned the ball over six times, while Jordan Hulls and Jones had four apiece.
Many of those turnovers were of the unforced variety, which clearly frustrated Crean. But more than the missed shots and turnovers, Crean appeared to be most upset with the lack of fight and resolve that he saw from his team against the Buckeyes. He was clearly displeased by the seven rebounds that Watford and Tom Pritchard had combined in 27 and 26 minutes, respectively.
"There are some unacceptable numbers in here for us," Crean said. "We can call it inexperience, we can call it youth, but right now I'm calling it soft and it's got to change."
Now, Indiana has to return home and get itself right for a Saturday night showdown against Illinois. Crean said he won't let up on the team in the wake of the Ohio State loss, insisting that what his team needs is the exact opposite.
"We don't need time - we need to go home and have tough practices like we've been," Crean said. "The last thing we're going to do is back off. That's what soft, undisciplined, losing teams do. We're going to continue to fight and battle or I'm not going to play certain guys."
Watford 3-7 3-4 11, Pritchard 1-1 0-0 2, Hulls 0-5 2-2 2, Rivers 2-8 0-1 4, Jones 7-16 7-8 22, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Finkelmeier 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 1-1, 0-0 3, Muniru 1-1 0-0 2, Capobianco 0-1 0-0 0, Gambles 0-0 0-0 0, Elston 1-5 0-0 2, Dumes 2-8 2-2 6, Jobe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 14-17 54.
OHIO STATE 79
Lauderdale 2-4 1-2 5, Turner 2-5 4-6 8, Lighty 2-5 2-4 6, Diebler 6-10 4-6 21, Buford 6-11 3-3 16, Simmons 2-7 3-4 8, Hill 1-2 6-8 9, Days 0-0 0-0 0, Peters 0-1 0-0 0, Madsen 1-1 0-0 2, Kecman 2-4 0-0 4, Titus 0-0 0-0 0, Sarikopoulos 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 23-32 79.
3-Pointers: Indiana 4-18 (Watford 2-3, Moore 1-1, Jones 1-5, Hulls 0-5, Dumes 0-2, Capobianco 0-1, Rivers 0-1), Ohio State 8-19 (Diebler 5-8, Hill 1-1, Buford 1-3, Simmons 1-4, Turner 0-1, Kecman 0-2). Rebounds: Indiana 35 (Rivers 8), Ohio State 35 (Buford 6). Assists: Indiana 9 (Rivers 5), Ohio State 16 (Turner 5). Turnovers: Indiana 24, Ohio State 16. Blocks: Indiana 1 (Muniru), Ohio State 0. Steals: Indiana 4, Ohio State 8. Officials: Mike Sanzere, Curtis Shaw, Dan Chrisman. Attendance: 13,712.
Hoosiers No Match For Buckeyes, 79-54
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