Ohio State erased an 18-point first-half deficit but could not hold off visiting Indiana in a 96-92 loss on Saturday afternoon at Value City Arena.
The Hoosiers (17-14, 7-11 Big Ten) started the game shooting 13 of 15 from the floor to build a 32-15 lead over the Buckeyes (17-14, 7-11) with 12:16 to play in the first half.
IU scored the first 11 points of the game, largely because Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk and James Blackmon Jr. all hit a shot from beyond the arc. At the 12:52 mark of the opening period, Johnson made a layup to give the visitors their largest lead of the game (18 points), putting his team ahead, 30-12.
The Buckeyes managed to cut the deficit to nine on a layup from JaQuan Lyle to make it a 39-30 game with 6:52 to play until halftime. The Hoosiers responded by scoring 13 of the contest's next 18 points to expand their margin to 52-35 at the 1:49 mark. Thomas Bryant had seven points during that stretch while Newkirk had the other six.
After OSU scored five straight points - two free throws from Trevor Thompson and a Marc Loving triple - Newkirk made a jumper with one second left to put IU ahead, 54-40, at halftime.
"The 54 at halftime, I don’t think we’ve ever given up that many points that I can think of," said OSU head coach Thad Matta. "They were rolling. I give Indiana credit, they were on one today."
Four Hoosiers reached double figures in scoring in the first half alone. Johnson led the team with 15 points, Bryant was next with 14, Newkirk had 13 and Blackmon added 10.
As a team, IU shot 64.7 percent (22 of 34) from the floor in the first 20 minutes and 58.3 percent from three-point range (7 of 12).
"It seemed like every shot they were taking was going in," said OSU junior forward Jae'Sean Tate.
Similar to the Hoosiers starting the first period strong, OSU came out firing in the second frame. The Buckeyes went on a 13-3 run in the first 4:01 of the second half to pull within four, 57-53. Thompson had five points during the streak while C.J. Jackson and Tate each had four.
"Ironically, I told them we were going to cut it to three early in the second half, and at the first timeout we got it down to (four)," Matta said.
The Buckeyes took their only lead of the game when Jackson nailed a straightaway three with 11:37 remaining to put his team on top, 62-61. The Hoosiers answered with a 13-2 spurt to go back in front by a score of 74-64 with 6:51 on the clock, ultimately sealing the game. Blackmon started the run with a three while Johnson and Juwan Morgan each scored five points.
"Probably the play of the game, we’re up 62-61, we get a rebound, it gets deflected out, they pick it up, spray it and hit a three (Blackmon's) in the corner," Matta said.
OSU eventually cut it two on a Jackson trey with four seconds left to make it a 94-92 game. Blackmon then made a pair of free throws to secure the win for IU.
The Buckeyes gave up a season-high 96 points. The most points they gave up prior to Saturday's game was 89 in a loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 12.
"Obviously, we weren’t playing the defense that we play," Tate said. "I’m more focused on the defense and giving up 96 points. Unacceptable, especially 50-plus at half.”
Tate led the Buckeyes with 20 points while also dishing out a team-high six assists. Thompson logged his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jackson and Lyle each finished with 18 points.
In his final regular-season game at VCA, Loving, a senior, had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Johnson led the Hoosiers with a game-high 26 points, making 10 of 17 field goals and 5 of 8 threes. Blackmon was second with 22 points. Newkirk ended the day with 18, Bryant finished with 16 and Morgan contributed 11.
For the game, IU shot 58.6 percent (34 of 58) from the floor and 52.2 percent (12 of 23) from long range. OSU, meanwhile, shot at a 53.2 clip (33 of 62) from the field and a 57.1 clip (12 of 21) from beyond the arc.
Both teams distributed the ball, as IU had 18 assists and OSU had 15.
Following the game, Hoosier head coach Tom Crean had a few kind words to say about Matta and his program.
"We’re fortunate to beat a team with a coach I have a tremendous amount of respect for in Thad," Crean said. "When he is eligible he has earned his way to the Hall of Fame. I’ve always felt like that, especially since he’s been here. Certainly, what he's done here is amazing. We all hit skids. We have a lot of respect for those players and for him, and we knew we were going to have to play really well."
The Buckeyes now look to the Big Ten tournament, which begins Wednesday.
"We’ve just got to try to prepare and make a run in the tournament," Tate said. "We’ve just got to work hard in practice. We’re not sure who we’re playing or when we’re playing but we’ve just got to go. For Marc, this is his last Big Ten tournament, we owe that much to him.”
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