Tuesday's 72-69 loss to Indiana marked the fifth in the last seven games for the Bucks, whose NCAA hopes have all but been extinguished by the late season tailspin.
Team leader Jamar Butler was recently benched for what he deemed "personal reasons," presumably for his repeated outbursts at teammates over recent weeks.
He has plenty of reasons to be upset. The Buckeyes are 0-9 against teams with an RPI of 40 or better. They're 1-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer — and five of those losses have come against teams in the RPI's top 40.
So many near misses are the reason Butler called a players-only meeting this week, in which he did most of the talking and the message was simple: believe.
They're running out of time. Entering Saturday's game at Minnesota, the Buckeyes are 17-11 and will now need a strong showing in the Big Ten tournament to bolster their resume and give themselves any chance at a successful March one year after playing for the national championship.
INDIANA 72, OHIO STATE 69: Kosta Koufos scored 21 points, 18 in the second half, but the Buckeyes lost for the fifth time in seven games after falling behind by 13 in the first half.
Ohio State got the deficit down to two with under five minutes to play, but couldn't come all the way back against Indiana, which was playing its first home game since the resignation of Kelvin Sampson.
Evan Turner had 13 points off the bench for Ohio State, while Jamar Butler and Othello Hunter each scored 12.
That was the case again Feb. 24, when the Buckeyes failed to score in the last 3:15 and lost to Wisconsin 58-53 at home, further jeopardizing their chances of gaining a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State is 1-8 against ranked teams this season and 0-9 against teams now in the top 40 of the RPI.
"I've looked at that," coach Thad Matta said. "Some of the plays that have gone against us, the other teams have made the big plays. We just, for whatever reason, haven't been able to make that one play. I don't know particularly the reason that is."
Ohio State has been to the NCAA Tourney each of the past two seasons and advanced to the final last season before losing to Florida.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters — F Othello Hunter, F David Lighty, C Kosta Koufos, G Jamar Butler, G Evan Turner. Key Subs — G Jon Diebler, F Matt Terwilliger.
IN FOCUS: At this point, the Buckeyes' season is a salvage operation. They'll be hard-pressed to win any of their final three regular-season games; their best shot is at Wisconsin.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We need to get a lead late in the game. It always seems like we're playing from behind," — coach Thad Matta on Ohio State being 1-6 in games decided by seven points or less this season.
Ohio State 65, Northwestern 47
Michigan 80, Ohio State 70
Wisconsin 58, Ohio State 53
Indiana 72, Ohio State 69
at Minnesota, Saturday, March 1
vs. Purdue, Tuesday, March 4
vs. Michigan State, Sunday, March 9