Ohio State (15-5, 5-3) handed No. 23 Indiana (15-5, 5-2) its second conference loss of the season 82-70 at Value City Arena thanks to a small, energetic lineup and a nearly flawless performance from D’Angelo Russell.
The Buckeye freshman finished with 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, all of which led Ohio State. He turned the ball over just three times and scored or assisted on 19 of the team’s 33 field goals, contributing on 45 points for Ohio State.
Russell downplayed his performance, crediting the rest of the team’s efficiency (the Buckeyes shot 62.3 percent on the afternoon) for his success.
“I give credit to all my teammates, they were making shots and finishing,” he said. “I was just finding them so it made my job easier.”
For the second consecutive game, Matta went with a smaller starting lineup that featured Jae’Sean Tate and Anthony Lee in place of Marc Loving and Amir Williams. Loving still saw the floor plenty as the coach elected to forgo a traditional big for a large portion of the game, matching Indiana’s smaller lineup.
Despite Russell’s banner day and the new-look lineup, Ohio State still found itself trailing early. The Buckeyes fell behind 9-2 at the start and the hot-shooting Hoosiers connected on their first eight field goal attempts to build an 18-12 lead.
“For some reason everybody starts off hot on us, they’re never missing shots,” point guard Shannon Scott said. “I think we did a great job of not getting frustrated about that. I think the first four minutes they shot 100 percent and if a team shoots 100 percent for a game then we’re gonna lose the game. I think we did a great job of staying composed and playing our defense.”
It wasn’t the typical sluggish start that Buckeye fans have grown accustomed to. Ohio State was getting looks inside and giving good energy on that end, but Indiana couldn’t miss. Once the Hoosiers did, the Buckeyes started a run of their own.
Ohio State hit five of their next six shots while Indiana didn’t hit a field goal for the next 7:06 of game clock, missing five attempts and turning the ball over six times in that stretch. That allowed the Buckeyes to take a 25-19 advantage.
Matta credited the Buckeyes activity as the driving force to get them back in control of the game.
“I think we were maybe a little bit rattled just in terms of what they did to us in the beginning,” the coach said. “Some of those were tough shots which is what they do. They make difficult shots. I thought we did a good job of just settling down, executing what we wanted to on offense, we got some turnovers, we got some rebounds and we were able to get out and score.”
The first half of runs continued, but Ohio State would not trail again. After a quick 6-0 spurt form the Hoosiers tied it at 25, Ohio State went on a 10-point run to take their first double-digit lead of the day. Tate tipped in his own miss and finished an old fashioned three-point play during that run while Kam Williams hit a three and Loving knocked down two free throws.
Four consecutive empty possessions from the Buckeyes allowed the Hoosiers to get it to 35-32 before Russell connected on an and-1 on Ohio State’s final first-half possession to send it to the break with OSU leading 38-32.
After the Buckeyes had success with a small lineup in the first half, one that featured Loving and Thompson as the tallest players, Loving started the second half in place of Lee.
Ohio State opened the second half on a 13-6 run, one that was capped by a Loving three on a nice pass from Russell, prompting an IU timeout. That gave the Buckeyes a 51-38 advantage, their largest to that point.
Indiana coach Tom Crean had nothing but praise for Russell, adding that his team failed to disrupt what he and Scott wanted to do and made things easier for the Buckeyes.
“The bottom line on defense for us is we never got D’Angelo Russell or Shannon Scott under control,” Crean said.
“We weren’t as active and that’s what creates spacing for guys like Loving and Thompson to cut and for Tate to play the way he is, he’s very, very aggressive and he was the beneficiary.”
Tate finished with a career-high 20 points going along with six rebounds. He was extremely efficient, connecting on 9 of his 10 field goals on the afternoon, rebounding and scoring after his only miss.
The Hoosiers Yogi Ferrell did all he could to keep Indiana in it, hitting a three after the timeout and finishing with 26 points, but it wasn’t enough.
Ohio State was too efficient offensively in the second half, hitting 18 of their 24 field goals, and Indiana couldn’t climb out of their hole.
It was the Buckeyes first win over a ranked opponent this season in three attempts and only the second time they’ve won consecutive conference games this season.
“I think in terms of the evolution of this team, I want to see us do it again,” Matta said. “I want to see us play with that type of emotion, that type of energy, that type of togetherness. Today was just so odd in terms of how we had to play to win the game.
Loving added 12 and Shannon Scott had 10. Amir Williams didn't see the floor in the win.
Ohio Sate hosts Maryland Thursday at 7 p.m.