Zeller, Oladipo Too Much for Buckeyes in Second-Straight Loss
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The streak is over.
After 121 games, the Ohio State Buckeyes finally lost back-to-back contests on Sunday, losing to No. 1-ranked Indiana 81-68 in front of a packed Value City Arena.
The crowd was ready for the visiting Hoosiers, who were also coming off a loss on Thursday at Illinois. The pregame video featured former IU coach Bob Knight saying “there is nothing like Ohio State basketball,” but even The General would have had a hard time slowing down Indiana’s talented trio in this game.
IU junior Victor Oladipo took over in the first half, scoring 14 of his career-high 26 points, while sophomore Cody Zeller carried them down the stretch. Indiana’s preseason All-American had 24 points on 11 shots and senior Christian Watford knocked down four threes as the Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) proved to be too much for 10th-ranked Ohio State (17-6, 7-4).
“Victor, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford played as well as a triangle of three guys there as you could get,” Coach Tom Crean said after Indiana’s first road win over a Top 10 in 13 years.
“I wouldn’t trade Cody. And if you polled all the coaches in the country, I think most of them would like to have Cody. Same with Victor Oladipo.”
Indiana’s three stars combined for 70 points and 22 rebounds against OSU. They shot a combined 22 of 32 from the floor and were 21 of 25 from the free throw line, helping the Hoosiers overcome a 26-point performance from Indiana native Deshaun Thomas.
The leading scorer in the Big Ten, and third leading scorer in Indiana high school basketball history, played all 40 minute Sunday after playing 45 during Ohio State’s overtime loss at Michigan. He scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but also took 20 of Ohio State’s 59 shots.
He didn’t get much help from his teammates – though Aaron Craft finished with 16 points and LaQuinton Ross had 11 off the bench – and by the end he was just forcing the ball at the basket.
“We thought we had our minds right. We felt good coming off that Michigan game, even though we lost,” said Thomas, who scored 13 points in each half Sunday.
“They came in and played their game. They were relaxed and didn't let any distractions get to them.”
After the Buckeyes fell behind 11-4 in the early going, Thomas connected on a pair of threes during a 9-0 Ohio State run. His second one from the corner gave OSU a 13-11 lead with 11:35 to play in the first half, but the Buckeyes could not stay out of foul trouble.
Center Amir Williams picked up two early fouls and even Craft had to sit on the bench for the final five minutes of the first half. He would eventually foul out with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists, and the Buckeyes racked up 27 fouls as a team compared to just 15 for Indiana.
“It’s tough for sure, but we just didn’t have what we needed to win this game today,” OSU head coach Thad Matta said after his team’s sixth loss of the season.
“We didn’t do some of the things we had to in order to win, we have to finish through contact better.”
The Buckeyes are just 1-6 against ranked teams this season. They are 16-0 against everyone else. This was the second time they have lost on their home floor this season, and it all started with Oladipo.
Ohio State trailed Indiana 41-33 at the half, but Thomas cut the lead to four with 16:28 to play in the second half. That was as close as they would get. Oladipo scored five quick points to put the Hoosiers back on top by nine, and a layup by Zeller gave the Hoosiers a 12-point lead with 13:39 to play.
“Tyler was really finishing well inside tonight, but we hurt ourselves with some easy put-backs,” Matta said.
“We didn’t guard them as well as we needed to at times.”
The Hoosiers shot 59 percent from the floor in the second half and made four of their seven shots from behind the arc. Watford went 4 of 5 from longrange and finished with 20 points, giving Indiana three players with 20 or more in the game.
“You’re not going to win many games where you have three guys score 20 against you,” said Craft, who cracked into the top 10 all-time in Big Ten history for career steals with his one steal against Indiana.
Craft’s hustle down the stretch helped the Buckeyes trim Indiana’s lead from 16 down to just eight in the final minute of the game, but the Hoosiers were not about to have a repeat of what happened to them up in Champaign. Not this time.
“It takes consciousness,” Crean said. “When our guys absorb what they need to do and do it, that’s when you can put a team away.”
The Buckeyes are back at it Thursday night against Northwestern here in Columbus. They travel to Madison next Sunday for another tough road game in the Big Ten.
“This league is, like...wow,” Matta said shaking his head.
“The theme is when you get knocked down, you have to get back up again.”