Indiana Native Thomas Torches Feeble Hoosiers
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jared Sullinger played only three minutes in the first half of Sunday’s game because of foul trouble, but the Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat without their star freshman against outmatched Indiana.
Fellow freshman Deshaun Thomas channeled his inner Sullinger, tallying 22 points and four rebounds against his hometown team, as second-ranked Ohio State (27-2, 14-2 Big Ten) demolished Indiana (12-17, 3-13) by a score of 82-61 in Columbus.
“It felt great,” said Thomas, who made seven of his nine shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 behind the arc.
“Every day in practice Coach (Thad) Matta was telling me we need you, and after today I’m proud of myself and my teammates.”
The Indiana native came off the bench and dropped 16 points on the Hoosiers in the first half, including a stretch of 14-straight over a three-and-a-half minute span as the Buckeyes got out to a 30-13 start.
To that point, Thomas had outscored Tom Crean’s entire team 14-13. He scored at will, both inside and out. It was a dominating performance by the Hoosier State’s reigning Mr. Basketball, and an equally lifeless performance by the Hoosiers themselves.
“We lost momentum in the first half, especially with the foul discrepancy. We were hanging right there and all of a sudden they were going to the foul line and we weren’t able to get there and we lost momentum,” a disgruntled Crean said after the game.
“They made some plays and we didn’t make enough shots. We had a horrendous shooting day.”
Indiana shot 36-percent from the floor in the first half, including a donut from behind the arc on eight tries. They also turned the ball over 10 times and got to the free throw line only seven times compared to 17 for Ohio State.
As a result, the Hoosiers had just 23 points in 20 minutes of action. Leading scorer Christian Watford had only three points on 1-of-5 shooting, as the Hoosiers could not capitalize on the fact that Sullinger and David Lighty were both on the bench for much of the first half.
“I think the opening play happened and I was a little nervous we wouldn’t get our minds where we needed them – to be locked down on defense,” Matta said of Tom Pritchard’s easy dunk.
“Deshaun came in and I like him making shots, but thought he was really locking in defensively."
Ohio State’s leading scorer this season at nearly 18 points a game, Sullinger picked up his first foul at the 16:52 mark of the first half. Matta quickly went to Aaron Craft off his bench, but Sullinger checked back into the game after Dallas Lauderdale picked up his first foul three minutes later.
Sullinger’s stay was short lived. Very short. It lasted all of one second when he immediately picked up his second foul swiping for a ball. Before he had even settled in his seat, Lauderdale was back at the scorer’s table and Sullinger wouldn’t see the court again until the second half.
“We knew that he was in foul trouble early, but we just kept playing hard,” said William Buford, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half.
“Dallas (Lauderdale) played great today getting blocks and rebounds.”
Buford, Sullinger, and Lighty combined for just eight points in the first half, but Thomas picked up the scoring with 16 of his game-high 22 points before halftime. Lauderdale also played well (4 points, 3 rebounds) in his 18 minutes, as the Buckeyes got out to a 38-23 lead at the half.
The Hoosiers were much better shooting the ball in the second half, but they could never get back into the game. Buford knocked down a three in the corner on Ohio State’s first possession of the half and the Buckeyes pulled away for a 21-point victory.
“In the second half we had some opportunities to cut it, but we didn’t make enough shots,” Crean said.
“It’s about momentum and they kept it the entire way once they got it.”
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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