With a 74-70 win over No. 2 Ohio State in Assembly Hall Saturday evening, Indiana now will head into the New Year with wins over the top- and second-ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 1996-97. The No. 15 Hoosiers, now 13-1 on the season, shocked then-No. 1 Kentucky on the same floor with a buzzer-beating victory Dec. 10.
Ohio State (13-2, 1-1 Big Ten) did have its chance to leave Indiana with just its win over the Wildcats. Down by two points with the ball on what looked to be the game's final possession, Ohio State came up short after a contested three-point jumper attempt by senior guard William Buford was off the mark.
Indiana's Victor Oladipo – who finished with 15 points – made a layup to put Indiana up 71-70, a lead the Hoosiers wouldn't relinquish. After an Ohio State turnover on the ensuing possession, Jordan Hulls made 1-of-2 free throws to give Indiana the 2-point lead before Buford missed the attempt in the finals seconds.
Christian Watford, who made the game-winning three against Kentucky, iced the game by knocking down two free throws with only two seconds remaining on the clock. He finished with 10 points.
Ohio State's only previous loss came on the road at then-No. 13 Kansas, a game where the Buckeyes competed without the services of sophomore All-America big man Jared Sullinger. The loss to the Hoosiers broke a streak where Ohio State enjoyed six-consecutive wins over the Hoosiers, including three in Assembly Hall.
Ohio State was led in scoring by Craft, who scored 16 points but also had an uncharacteristic five turnovers. The Hoosiers where led in scoring by Jordan Hull, who accounted for 17 points off of 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Sullinger finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds, but was limited for most of the game while he was saddled with foul trouble. The Buckeyes got out to a 19-9 lead early in the game, but Sullinger picked up his second foul at the 10:38 mark in the first half.
Any momentum Ohio State gained with the early advantage went away with the questionable foul call on Sullinger, which landed him on the bench for the final 9½ minutes of the first half. The Hoosiers took advantage, closing out the first 20 minutes on a 24-13 run.
The Buckeyes still held the lead late in the first half, but back-to-back turnovers by Craft led to consecutive easy transition buckets for the Hoosiers, helping Indiana achieve the 33-32 advantage at the break. The final basket of the first half was a two-handed slam in transition for Oladipo.
Sullinger wasn't the only one saddled with foul trouble for the Buckeyes, as fellow starters Deshaun Thomas and Buford both picked up two fouls in the first half. Sullinger and Thomas combined for only 14 minutes on the floor in the first 20 minutes.
With quick whistles continuing through the second half, it made it hard at times for Ohio State to play that tough interior defense head coach Thad Matta prides his teams on. The Buckeyes finished the game with only two less fouls (22) than made field goals (24) and Sullinger, Buford and Thomas all picked up four whistles.
With easy buckets in the paint traded by both teams for the majority of the final eight minutes, it was Indiana who came up with the big buckets down the stretch of the game. Despite Sullinger drawing Indiana big man Cody Zeller's fifth foul with less than five minutes remaining in the contest, Ohio State didn't get the ball to its big man in the final moments of the game.
Indiana will begin 2012 with a 1-1 record in Big Ten play, as the Hoosiers are coming off a 15-point loss to Michigan State. Despite students being on holiday break, the Hoosiers sold out Assembly Hall – which seats nearly 17,500 people – a year after the program had only 14,883 in attendance when hosting the Buckeyes on New Year's Eve a year ago.