Ohio State trailed host Indiana 55-54 after Ivan Harris splashed a three-pointer with 4:52 left. But the Buckeyes were twice victimized by overplaying Wright, IU's streaky shooter and top scorer. He fed Patrick Ewing Jr. and E.J. White for dunks that helped the Hoosiers get over the hump and take a 67-60 Big Ten men's basketball win before 17,437 Saturday at Assembly Hall.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Buckeyes (12-7, 1-4) and was also their fifth in six games.
"I give our guys a lot of credit," said OSU coach Thad Matta. "They came out and withstood a heck of a run by Indiana. We put ourselves in position at the end where we wanted to be.
"We made some major mistakes tonight, but, damn it, these kids are busting it."
Wright did earn some respect. He did tally a game-high 23 points and had four assists to lead the Hoosiers (9-7, 4-1), who have now won six of their last seven. Wright had 18 points in the second half.
White, a talented freshman post player, was a tough match-up for OSU center Terence Dials. White hit on 7 of 10 shots from the floor and finished with 15 points.
"We played great defensively in the first half and that helped us with Bracey struggling a little bit," said IU coach Mike Davis. "In the second half, D.J. struggled with some cramps and Bracey stepped up."
Dials led OSU with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Tony Stockman came back from being scoreless in Wednesday's loss to Minnesota to score 14 points, although he was just 5 of 15 from the floor. Ivan Harris was 3 of 7 from three-point range on his way to 11 points.
Je'Kel Foster added seven points, Matt Sylvester scored six and J.J. Sullinger had four.
White had 11 points in the first half as he looked more than comfortable inside the lane.
"We knew they were going to try and go at me," Dials said of White's early success. "They were trying to get me into foul trouble and he got off a little bit. I am trying not to pick up fouls early in the game. I have to play smart and play aggressive."
IU jumped out to an early 9-2 lead behind a pair of Robert Vaden three-pointers. OSU rallied and cut it to 11-9 with 14:23 left in the half after a three-point play by Stockman.
OSU still trailed 17-15 after Sylvester made a jumper in the lane with 9:36 left in the half. IU then went on an 8-2 run, keyed by four points from White, to go up 25-17 with 4:55 left.
OSU rallied behind treys from Foster and Harris to cut the lead to 27-23 with 3:23 left in the half. But the Buckeyes did not score again. White made 1 of 2 free throws with 2:05 left and Marshall Strickland buried a three from the top of the key with 1:32 left to account for the Hoosiers' 31-23 halftime advantage.
White opened the second half with a baseline jumper to give the Hoosiers a 33-23 lead.
This is when Ohio State went on 18-5 run. Stockman had seven points during this stretch and Dials tallied six as the Buckeyes surged ahead 41-38 with 14:07 left. Harris gave the Buckeyes their first lead on a trey with 15:18 left.
"We came out and kind of stood around in the second half," Davis said. "But we've been in close game and we've been in tough games. Our guys kept their composure and played hard."
Dials added, "We knew we had it in us. We wanted to come out and have a run."
After seeing his team commit eight first-half turnovers, Matta liked seeing the Buckeyes get scoring opportunities and finish them early in the second half.
"We had to slow down," Matta said. "In the first half, the travels we had were a function of trying to go too fast. We slowed down and cleaned those things up."
The teams traded the lead four times before Wright hit a pullup jumper and was fouled with 12:40 left. His free throw gave IU a 47-44 lead.
Dials made a spinning bank shot and, after an IU miss, Harris canned his three from the right corner with 4:52 left to cut the Indiana lead to 55-54.
But Indiana answered as Wright dribbled right, drew Dials out of the post and dished to Ewing for the dunk and a 57-54 lead with 4:35 left. OSU then went three possessions without scoring – including missed three-point tries by Harris and Stockman – before Wright dribbled left and drew Dials out again. This time, White was the beneficiary and his one-handed tomahawk dunk gave IU a 59-54 lead with 1:45 left.
"On the dunk Patrick Ewing Jr. got, we just weren't ready," Dials said. "We're supposed to zone up on the back side if I hedge out and help. There should be two or three guys back there and we didn't have that.
"On the second one that White got, we were doing something special with Bracey Wright. My head went blank and he executed a dunk."
Foster got an offensive rebound off a Dials missed free throw and was fouled. His two free throws cut the lead to 59-57 with 1:25 left. But Foster then bumped Wright on a steal attempt and was whistled for a foul. His two free throws with 1:09 left started a succession where IU made eight straight free throws to ice the game.
"We kept competing and we're down two and Je'Kel runs the guy over, that's tough to take," Matta said.
Stockman splashed a three with 10 seconds left to account for the final seven-point margin. But that was one of just three field goals the Buckeyes had over the last 13:35.
Matta said he isn't giving up yet.
"I told this team after the game I love this team," he said. "We'll get this thing turned around. They're going to stay committed. We don't like where we are. But we'll keep working to get better."
The loss was the latest in a tough string for OSU. The Buckeyes lost by six at Wisconsin, fell in double overtime at LSU, in one overtime at home to Minnesota on Wednesday and now by seven at Indiana.
"We know we can play with anybody in the country, but we can't get over the hump," Dials said. "This team needs to learn, whether it's making big shots are getting key stops, to win games. We've had too many close games to be 12-7 or whatever we are. We've won before. We just have to do it. For some reason we're not getting it done."
* Ohio State fell to 5-27 all-time in Assembly Hall since it opened in 1971-72. OSU's wins at Assembly Hall came in 1985, 1991, 1999, 2000 and 2004.
* OSU returns home Wednesday to host Penn State (7-11, 1-4). The Nittany Lions got their first Big Ten win of the year Saturday, stunning Northwestern 65-62 at State College.
* Dials' double-double is the sixth of the year and ninth of his career.