Upon Further Review: Ohio State

Despite some early foul trouble for Evan Turner, Indiana had few answers for Ohio State in a 69-52 loss Wednesday night at Assembly Hall. Hoosier Nation looks back at IU's loss and talks about what we found to be most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Jordan Hulls. There were very few bright spots in the Hoosiers' 17-point loss, but Hulls' play was one of them. Back in the starting lineup for the first time in three games, Hulls was a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range, 5-of-9 shooting overall, and finished with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. It was a much better effort for Hulls than the first time these two teams played, when Hulls missed all five of his 3-point attempts and had four turnovers in 28 minutes during the Hoosiers' 25-point defeat in Columbus. Hulls also had issues matching up with Jon Diebler in that contest, as Diebler led OSU with 21 points. Hulls was aided on the defensive end this time around by the fact that IU played plenty of zone, but Hulls appeared to be playing with a level of confidence that was lacking in the first meeting with the Buckeyes.

Biggest Surprise… The abundance of easy baskets that Ohio State got against Indiana. Whether it was Dallas Lauderdale getting behind Indiana's 2-3 zone for easy dunks or Will Buford driving to the basket for layups, a lot of things came easily for Ohio State Wednesday night. That was particularly true in the second half, when Evan Turner returned to the floor following his first-half foul trouble to hand out all six of his assists. The Buckeyes shot 48.2 percent for the game and 56.5 percent in the second half, and at times made things look extremely easy against the variety of different defensive looks that IU threw at them. Indiana also did very little to disrupt the Buckeyes offensively, as OSU committed only six turnovers. Ohio State went from the 5:34 mark of the first half all the way to the 4:36 mark of the second half without committing a turnover, so it was obvious that Indiana didn't make things very difficult for the Buckeyes all night long.

What I Found Most Impressive… About the only thing that went well for the Hoosiers was the fact that they were able to get out of a quick 9-0 hole and close to within two, 22-20, with six minutes remaining in the half. Early on it appeared the game would be rout from the opening tip, but Indiana managed to rally and make things interesting for at least a portion of the first half.

What I Found Most Concerning… Freshman forward Derek Elston's struggles continued, as he was limited to just two missed shots and three rebounds in a season-low six minutes. He appeared to get lost on the offensive end shortly after entering the game for the first time in the first half, which prompted IU Coach Tom Crean to quickly sub him back out in favor of Tom Pritchard. Offensively, Elston got off to a quick start to the season, scoring in double figures in three of IU's first six games. But he hasn't reached double figures since, and he's seen his playing time drop-off as well. His play as of late would suggest that his confidence level has dipped, and his lack of production has hurt an IU team that needs his offensive production off the bench. Some of his struggles shouldn't come as a huge surprise since Elston is a freshman, and he's making the jump from playing at the 2A level in high school. But getting him out of this tailspin during the regular season's final month would be big for Elston as he heads into the off-season.

Turning Point: Christian Watford's 3-pointer with 6:06 remaining in the first half cut the OSU lead to 22-20, but the Buckeyes proceeded to run off 12 straight points to close the half and open a 14-point cushion. OSU's run was fueled by IU's propensity for turnovers late in the period. After committing only two turnovers in the game's first 15:57, IU turned it over seven times in the final 4:02 of the half. Those turnovers resulted in eight of OSU's 12 points, and Indiana never seriously threatened in the second half.

Quotable:
"We have to have mental toughness. Obviously this is a tough loss and we're upset with some of the losses we've had in the past too, but we have to take the bull by the horns and go into practice every day and work on getting better and have the right mindset going into the next game." – Jordan Hulls

"We are (fragile) in a sense. We have to pick it up and move on. We have to get together and play better." – Christian Watford

"I don't feel like I've hit a wall, and I don't feel our team has hit a wall, either. It's something we have to get through." – Watford

"We told our guys Sunday after the Iowa game, coming in here it's always a tough place to play. We had to come in with the mindset of being in an attack mode and I thought we got off to a great start." – Ohio State Coach Thad Matta

"We are not a hardened enough team yet. We aren't tough and smart enough yet in so mnay different areas to withstand mistakes." – IU Coach Tom Crean

We didn't guard the dribble as well (tonight). We went on what I call island defense. We sit on an island by ourselves. We want to attack on offense. We want to put pressure on people defensively, but there's a responsibility that goes along with that. You have to cover for your teammates. You have to be alert and you have to block out. We didn't do a very good job of that in that stretch." – Crean

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