One game after the Buckeyes easily dispatched lowly Houston Baptist, they gave new Indiana head coach Tom Crean a rude awakening. The final was a 77-53 OSU win at Value City Arena, moving the home team to .500 in Big Ten play and giving it a two-game winning streak before heading back on the road for its next two conference games.
This time, the Buckeyes (12-3, 2-2 Big Ten) did it with their three-point shooting. With seemingly every player capable of shooting from deep riding a hot hand, OSU jumped out to a 33-10 lead thanks to 8-of-9 team three-point shooting.
The Buckeyes hit on 5 of their first 6 treys and 9 of their first 11 before finishing the first half 11 of 16. By then, they headed into the half with a 44-28 lead that would be more than enough to earn the victory.
"We knew every time we would pass in the post they were going to trap," OSU guard Jon Diebler said. "Our posts did a great job getting the ball back out and I thought we reversed it back very well. I thought we really moved the ball well tonight on offense."
Indiana had clawed to within five points at 15-10 before the Buckeyes took off. Keyed by – what else? – hot three-point shooting, OSU embarked upon an 18-0 run that made it 33-10 with 8:33 remaining. Twelve of those 18 points came thanks to two three-pointers by William Buford and Diebler and Jeremie Simmons each added one.
The Hoosiers (5-11, 0-4) turned the ball over three times and missed five shots during the run. The final turnover came with 7:45 left in the half and summed up how things were going for the visitors.
Leading scorer Devan Dumes, who was questionable for the game after suffering a sprained ankle, found himself all alone on the left wing for a three-point attempt. Dumes caught the ball, collected himself and squared up to the basket. When he jumped, however, the ball squirted out of his hands and landed on the sideline, giving possession back to the Buckeyes.
It was that kind of game for the Hoosiers.
"We didn't put up enough resistance defensively, and they took advantage of that," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "They play like a veteran team the way they make the next pass."
The OSU run was achieved despite being without leading scorer Evan Turner, who picked up his second foul 6:13 into the game and spent the rest of the first half on the bench. He eventually would foul out.
In the second half, Indiana continued to battle but could not get the lead to less than 13 points. It helped that the Buckeyes were mortal from beyond the arc, going 2 for 8 in the final 20 minutes to finish 13 of 24 (54.2 percent) overall.
OSU head coach Thad Matta said he was disappointed with the way his team played once outside shots stopped falling.
"It's funny because I thought we took good shots and then we let a couple go that we probably didn't need to," he said. "I think we've got to continue to work an understanding of the game, which is always the hardest part. When something's easy early and they're going in, you've got to be able to change gears and we didn't do that very well tonight."
Buford led the way with 19 points while going 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, with both of his misses coming on the same possession. He did not come out of the game until 5:24 remained on the clock, but then returned after Turner picked up his fifth foul. Buford has now hit 11 of his last 21 treys taken in his last three games.
Diebler had 17 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting. Turner had 13, while Simmons added 12 points and eight assists against two turnovers.
"Coach challenged me before the game tonight," Simmons said. "He said he wanted 10 assists. Guess I was short by two."
Freshman B.J. Mullens put the exclamation point on the game, throwing down a one-handed dunk with 19.7 seconds left to set the final margin.
Indiana was led by Tom Pritchard's 16 points and game-high 11 rebounds. The Hoosiers out-rebounded the Buckeyes by a 36-30 count.
"You look at what we've got coming up the road here … any win's huge," Matta said. "It really is."