COLUMBUS – Freshman Malaki Branham scored 27 points and delivered the biggest assist of the game to lead No. 22 Ohio State (17-7, 10-5) to a dramatic overtime win over visiting Indiana (6-10, 7-9).
The first half of the game was close throughout. Indiana enjoyed a slim lead in the early going but OSU led by as many as seven late in the half. OSU held a five point advantage at 33-28 when the half ended.
OSU had the momentum and the early advantage in the second half, opening up a double-digit lead at 46-36. The Buckeyes seemed to be in control of the game at the 11:49 media time out, but Indiana had other ideas. The Hoosiers began getting to loose balls for extra chances. At the same time the Buckeyes went stone cold from the field. Four minutes and 38 seconds later OSU called a time out at the 7:11 mark after the Hoosiers had been on a 13-4 run to reduced the OSU lead to just one point at 55-54.
The time out didn’t stop the bleeding. The Hoosiers made a pair of free throws to completely erase what had once seemed to be a comfortable Buckeye lead and put Indiana back into the lead since early in the first half. The Hoosiers led by four with under four minutes to play when the Buckeyes finally started to rediscover their offense and began an improbable comeback.
Branham made two free throws to cut the Indina lead to just two with 56 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes needed a stop at the defensive end and got it. They regained possession with around 14 seconds left to play. Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann elected not to call time out and let his team play. Branham attempted to drive the basket but was cut off. That’s when he racked up the assist of the game when he found a wide open E.J. Liddell under the basket. Branham delivered a perfect pass and Liddell slammed home the tying dunk with just six seconds left on the game clock. A last second desperation shot by Indiana was well off the mark and the game went to overtime tied at 63 apiece.
Indiana drew first blood in overtime on a pair of free throws, but from that point on OSU dominated the overtime. The Buckeyes outscored Indiana 17-4 the rest of the way to claim the win.
Branham was the star of the game but had some help from his friends. Liddell contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists. Eugene Brown had one of his best games as a Buckeye with 10 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Indiana’s Xavier Johnson scored a team-high 16 points. Trayce Jackson-Davis added 13 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds. Race Thompson also had 13 points and Parker Stewart 11.
For the game Ohio State shot 48 percent from the field, Indiana just 34 percent.
Photo of Malaki Branham courtesy of ohiostatebuckeyes.com