The 16th-ranked Hoosiers turned back the 18th-rated Buckeyes 81-79 before 17,278 at Assembly Hall in what was – for the most part – a pretty good Big Ten men's basketball game.
Indiana (10-2, 2-0) pulled it out on Marshall Strickland's two free throws with 5.7 seconds left. With the game tied at 79-79, Strickland was sent to the line after official Dan Chrisman called a foul on OSU's Terence Dials for crashing through a screen in the middle of the lane. IU's Lewis Monroe was dribbling out top, waiting for IU's Marco Killingsworth to come to his side of the lane.
OSU (11-1, 1-1) had one last possession after a timeout with 3.6 seconds left. But it fell apart when J.J. Sullinger inbounded the ball near the right sideline to backup center Matt Terwilliger. Strickland batted the ball out of Terwilliger's hands as he tried to attempt a potential game winning three-pointer. No foul was called and Indiana had pulled out a huge conference win on its home floor.
"Obviously, this is a disappointing loss," said OSU coach Thad Matta. "We competed, but we struggled in the second half and couldn't stop them. The glaring thing for us was foul trouble. That crushed us. We came on the road and committed 27 fouls. We lose the game on a foul.
"We had a 17-point lead in the first half, but foul trouble throws us into some combinations and we struggled to run our offense. Our guys have got to play smarter than that."
"What a heck of a basketball game?" said IU coach Mike Davis. "We got off to a slow start mainly because Ohio State was playing great basketball. We got away from what we do – get the ball inside. Dials is a heck of a basketball player. (Je'Kel) Foster and all of those guys, Coach Matta has done a heck of a job.
"They are a very tough team. This is the best team we've faced in terms of guys making plays. We had no answer for them until we got back to our style of basketball."
Dials, who fouled out on the screen on Strickland, led Ohio State with 25 points and eight rebounds in just 25 minutes.
"I told my team I owed them something," said Dials, who had nine of his points in the final 7:16 to power OSU's stretch run. "I took a lot of ticky-tack fouls. I told my team I think I cost them the game. They needed me and I wasn't there. When my time came in the last seven or eight minutes, I tried to make something happen and will my team to the victory."
Je'Kel Foster and Ron Lewis each added 13 points for the Buckeyes. Foster also had eight rebounds for the Buckeyes.
OSU came out of the gate strong, building as big as a 17-point lead at 38-21 with 3:54 left in the first half. But the foul-plagued Buckeyes allowed IU to trim the halftime margin to 40-32. Indiana then quickly grabbed the lead on a three-point play by Killingsworth to put the Hoosiers up 46-45 with 17:11 left in the game.
The Buckeyes surged back ahead on treys by Foster and Sullinger to go up 53-47 with 14:37 to play. But IU regained the lead on Monroe's three-pointer that made it 66-64 with 7:55 left.
OSU drew even at 70-70 on a three-point play by Matt Sylvester with 5:58 left. The lead then changed six times before Dials gave the Buckeyes a 79-78 advantage by sticking in a Sylvester miss with 1:52 left.
Monroe then drew a foul on Sylvester – his fifth – on a drive attempt. He made 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 79-79 with 1:31 left.
Foster then missed a jumper and the ball went out of bounds to Indiana with 1:09 left. But Lewis got it back by stealing a pass out of the post by IU's D.J. White with 50 seconds left. OSU called a timeout with 44.4 seconds left.
The Buckeyes inbounded and eventually got the ball down to Dials, but he received it several feet outside the lane. He backed his way in against Killingsworth, but his turnaround 8-footer missed the mark. Sullinger grabbed the rebound, but Strickland tied him up and IU got possession with 25.3 seconds left.
"Killingsworth was pushing me out," Dials said. "I started on the block and he was pushing me out of my range. I still got a good look. I thought I got bumped. I should have gone to the line. But it was a physical game. They let us play down there."
Indiana took the clock down to 9.8 seconds before calling a timeout. After the inbounds play, Monroe was looking inside from the right wing toward Killingsworth. But Chrisman's whistle on Dials crashing into Strickland stopped the action and sent him to the bench with 5.7 seconds left.
Matta bitterly argued the call with official Donnee Gray, who came over to inform the bench that Dials had fouled out.
Afterwards, the coach bit his lip when asked about the call, saying, "Huh, I didn't see it."
Strickland shared his side of the Dials foul call.
"We were trying to get Marco open," Strickland said. "My job is to get Marco open. I set a screen on Dials earlier in the game and he plowed over me. He weighs 260. I knew if he hit me, I was going down. I set a cross screen and he ran me over. He tried to go right through me.
"I did a pretty good acting job."
Davis said the plan was to dump the ball on the block to Killingsworth.
"I did not want a quick shot and, at worst, I wanted overtime," Davis said. "We were going to go at Marco. With Dials guarding him, I didn't figure he wanted to foul him. But he reacted to Marco's cut too quick. He had no idea Marshall was standing there."
Dials shared his side of what happened.
"It's indicative that I get a foul called on me and they win the game on that," he said. "It happened so fast. I know he was trying to set a pick on Marco Killingsworth to come through there. We knew what they were going to run. I saw the screen coming. I don't know if he flopped or whatever. I didn't mean to bowl him over. I don't think I hit him that hard. It was a foul and game over."
Dials said he felt helpless as Strickland, a 90 percent free throw shooter, went to the line.
"You're just hoping he misses them," Dials said. "You don't really have a feeling at that point in time. The only thing is you knew he was a good free throw shooter. That's what really pisses me off to put a 90 percent free throw shooter at the foul line."
But Dials refused to blame the officials for the loss.
"The refs, they reffed the game the way it was supposed to go. It was all my fault. I have a hard time of letting layups go. I need to learn how to do it and let some things go."
Strickland's two free throws were the margin of victory as IU moved ahead 81-79. OSU's Jamar Butler advanced to the ball to midcourt and the Buckeyes called a timeout with 3.6 seconds left.
But OSU's final play disintegrated when Sullinger was unable to get the ball to either Lewis or Foster. He settled instead for Terwilliger 25 feet from the basket. Strickland converged and knocked the ball away, ending OSU's final threat as the buzzer sounded.
"It didn't work," Matta said simply of his final play. "We were supposed to get it in to Ron or ‘Kel. It went to quick. We just didn't have it."
For his part, Davis believed the Buckeyes were going to try a game-winning three-point shot.
"I figured, they were on the road and Dials was out, they would go for three and go for the win," Davis said.
Ohio State led by as many as 17 points in the first half as Dials scored 11 of his points and Lewis had 10 in the first 20 minutes.
OSU scored the game's first seven points on a Foster trey, Dials free throw and a Sylvester three-pointer off a feed from Butler in transition.
Indiana twice got the lead down to two in the first half, the last time on Killingsworth's layup with 11:30 left that cut the lead to 16-14.
Ohio State then reeled off nine unanswered points to build a 25-14 lead. Lewis canned a three off a screen up top. Dials then made a spinning bank shot. Sullinger got two points when his driving layup was goal-tended. And Dials tallied a layup on the break off a three-quarters court pass from Sullinger. That play gave OSU an 11-point lead at 25-14 with 9:21 left in the half.
The Buckeyes got the lead out to 13 at 31-18 on Lewis' acrobatic bank shot off a three-quarters court pass from Sylvester with 6:52 left in the first half. A Sylvester three-pointer made it 34-20 with 5:51 left. The lead went to 36-21 on Ivan Harris hook shot off a rebound at 4:51 left.
OSU enjoyed its biggest lead at 38-21 after Foster made a pair of free throws with 3:54 left.
"Defensively, we had held them to 21 points with 3:54 to go in the half," Matta said. "I was very pleased with our defense."
With Sullinger and Butler each having two fouls and Dials with one, Matta tried to ride out the half with Foster, Lewis and reserves Harris, Terwilliger and Sylvester Mayes. Indiana capitalized by reeling off nine straight points. Killingsworth scored off a lob before Wilmont made a driving bank shot in the lane. OSU then had three chances at its end, but could not score. IU continued its charge as Strickland made a driving jumper in the lane.
Then, after Mayes missed a shot for OSU, Wilmont canned a three-pointer on the fast break to trim the OSU lead to 38-30 with 1:28 left in the half. Matta called a timeout to calm down his team. The Buckeyes came out of the huddle and Foster threw a perfect alley oop to Lewis for a jam that put OSU up 40-30 with 1:09 left in the half.
At OSU's end, Terwilliger and Mayes mistimed an entry pass and Indiana stole it away. Wilmont missed a three at IU's end, but A.J. Ratliff was fouled by Dials on a second-chance shot attempt. Ratliff made both free throws with 1.2 seconds left to trim the halftime margin to 40-32.
"That's a prolific shooting team," Matta said. "They have so many guys who can shoot it. They do a good job of spreading you out. When we left our assignments, they made us pay."
The game was a tough turnaround for Ohio State, which had to travel Friday after playing Penn State at home Thursday night.
"The hard part was we had to travel and we had the short turnaround time," Matta said. "I give our guys a lot of credit. We had five video sessions and one practice. They did a tremendous job with what we wanted to do."
Dials said the Buckeyes will not fold up their tent after such a tough loss.
"This team isn't going anywhere," Dials said. "We know we can go in anyplace and win. Some things didn't go our way today. I was out for some stretches today. I can't put my team in that type of situation where we don't have a low post threat to go to and the defense doesn't respect the low post. That puts more pressure on the guards to make things happen."
Sylvester added nine points for OSU, while Sullinger and Butler each had seven. Mayes scored three and Harris had two.
White, still coming back from a broken foot, had six points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes for Indiana.
* OSU is now 5-28 all-time in Assembly Hall, which opened for the 1971-72 season. OSU's previous wins in Assembly Hall came in 1985, 1991, 2000, 2001 and 2004.
* This was OSU's first game against a ranked team this season. OSU is now 2-5 against ranked teams under Matta. In his sixth year as a head coach, Matta is now 11-14 against ranked competition.
* OSU and Illinois fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday. The four remaining unbeaten teams are Florida (14-0), Duke (13-0), Pittsburgh (12-0) and Villanova (9-0).
* OSU is now 31-13 under Matta, including a record of 6-10 on the road.
* Ohio State visits Purdue Wednesday (8 p.m., ESPN-Plus) before returning home to host No. 7 Michigan State on Jan. 15. That game will start at 4:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by CBS.