It was billed as Ohio State’s biggest week of the regular season with games against No. 3 Michigan and No. 1 Indiana.
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Unfortunately for the 2012-13 Buckeyes, these seven days will only go into the record book as a huge missed opportunity.
Following Tuesday’s heartbreaking overtime loss at Michigan (74-72), No. 10 Ohio State dropped an 81-68 decision to top-ranked Indiana Sunday before a sellout crowd of 18,809 at Value City Arena and a national television audience on CBS.
“I told our guys after the game that we didn’t have what we needed today to win this game just in terms of making plays we needed to make,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “We deflected some balls, but we didn’t come up with them. In this type of game, you can’t do that.
“We didn’t guard them at the level we needed to guard them.”
“We just didn’t have it today,” added OSU senior Evan Ravenel. “They took shots and made shots. We didn’t bring our defensive toughness today.”
Wing Victor Oladipo had a career-high 26 points and eight rebounds as Indiana (21-3, 9-2) won on the road against a top-10 ranked team for the first time since 2000. Oladipo hit on 8 of 10 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 at the foul line.
Indiana was coming off its own tough loss, a 74-72 decision at unranked Illinois Thursday night. In that game, All-American center Cody Zeller only got six shots. It was obvious IU wanted to put the ball into Zeller here and he flourished. He finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, connecting on 8 of 11 shots from the floor and 8 of his 11 free throws.
“I am proud of the way our guys bounced back,” said IU coach Tom Crean. “All we focused on the last few days was improvement. They carried that in here today. Ohio State gets up into you defensively and they make it hard to score.
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“We had to be sharper and take better care of the ball. And we did the best job we have in the Big Ten (season) of feeding the post today.”
Forward Christian Watford hit 4 of 5 three-point attempts and finished with 20 points. The Hoosiers shot 53.1 percent from the floor, including a spiffy 58.8 percent (10 of 17) in the second half. That shooting percentage and IU’s 81 points were season highs against the Buckeyes.
“You’re not going to win too many games with three guys scoring over 20 points,” said OSU point guard Aaron Craft. “We did not play our type of defense today. They got a lot of 50/50 balls and had some putbacks on offensive rebounds. That just demoralizes you when you play good defense and don’t finish with a rebound.
“We definitely didn’t have the same effort we had (at Michigan).”
Deshaun Thomas was a one-man wrecking crew for Ohio State (17-6, 7-4), finishing with 26 points and six rebounds in 40 minutes. He was 8 of 20 from the floor and 8 of 9 from the foul line. He scored 22 of OSU’s first 44 points as the Buckeyes continued to struggle to adequately support his efforts.
Craft was next with 16 points and six rebounds, while LaQuinton Ross came off the bench and had 11 points for OSU.
This marked OSU’s first consecutive losses in over three years – the longest such streak in the country before today. It also dropped the Buckeyes two games behind Big Ten-leading Michigan State (9-2 Big Ten) in the conference standings.
Coming through a week with losses to two top-five opponents, the Buckeyes still have seven games remaining with four of them at home.
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“I think this team has gotten better from where we were in November and December and even in some stretches in January,” said Matta, whose team dropped to 1-6 against ranked teams this year. “You look at (losses at) Michigan State, Michigan and even Duke. You had your chances there.
“But as I tell our guys, it’s a long season. We know it will be tough down the stretch. It’s fight or flight. We have to get back to where we have that fight in us.”
This game was a stark contrast to OSU’s last home game against Wisconsin, when the Buckeyes committed 12 fouls and never put the Badgers on the foul line in a 58-49 win. Against Indiana, OSU was whistled for a season-high 27 fouls. The Hoosiers cashed in at the line as well, hitting on 22 of 28 free throws (78.6 percent).
“It was probably called a little tighter than what we had seen,” Matta said. “But we didn’t adjust to the way we had to play.”
Indiana shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half on its way to a 41-33 halftime lead. Oladipo had 14 points, Zeller 12 and Watford 10 in the first 20 minutes as the Hoosiers got OSU in foul trouble early and often. Thomas had 13 points in the first half for the Buckeyes.
IU jumped out to an early 11-4 lead as the Buckeyes struggled offensively. Jordan Hulls hit a three and, after OSU’s Sam Thompson missed an alley oop inbounds pass for a dunk, Hulls drove in for a layup and an 11-4 lead.
Even worse, center Amir Williams – who had been playing good basketball of late – was lost for the half with two fouls in the first three minutes.
“Amir going out when he did and as early as he did, that did hurt us,” Matta said. “He can affect some shots around the basket. That was a big blow to us because Amir had been playing very well of late.”
Lenzelle Smith Jr. drives vs. Indiana
OSU roared back with nine straight points, including a Thomas three off a Craft pass, a Craft driving layup and a Thomas three off a Craft pass in the left corner for a 13-11 lead with 11:37 left in the first half.
The lead changed hands here several times as IU’s Watford hit a three, but OSU’s Ross answered with a three-point play and a 16-14 OSU lead. Ross hit a baseline one-hander for an 18-16 lead with 8:27 left in the half.
Indiana went on an 8-1 run to regain the lead for good. The Hoosiers exploited their advantage in the paint with Oladipo getting a rebound basket, Watford rebounding his own miss, Oladipo hitting a jumper in transition and Zeller canning a spinning bank shot for a 24-19 lead with 6:11 left in the half.
“It wasn’t anything particular,” Craft said of IU’s answer to every OSU surge. “We’d make a run and then they’d come back and make a run at us. They kept their composure and that’s what good teams do.”
OSU rallied on drives by Ross and Smith to cut it to 24-23. But a three by Watford off a Hulls pass helped put IU back up 29-23 with 3:46 left in the half. Oladipo then had a nifty reverse off an alley oop pass and had a jam on a drive down the lane after an offensive board for a 37-29 lead with 1:26 left.
Thomas tipped in his own miss to cut the IU lead to 39-33 with 8.4 seconds left. But Oladipo was fouled on the ensuing play. His two free throws with 4.5 seconds left put Indiana up 41-33 at the break.
The Hoosiers kept the pressure on to start the second half as Williams and Craft each quickly grabbed their third foul.
Over the first 10-1/2 minutes of that second half, Indiana showed its class and pulled away by outscoring OSU 21-13. That helped the Hoosiers extend their lead to 62-46 with 9:30 left.
This run included threes by Oladipo and Will Sheehey, a Zeller layup off an Oladipo pass, a three and another jumper by Will Sheehey, a rebound basket by Oladipo, a hook from Zeller and a Watford trey in transition. This spurt put IU up 62-46 and forced Matta to call a timeout with 9:24 left.
“I’m most concerned that we didn’t execute the way we needed to,” Matta said. “The first possession of the second half, we had great execution and we got a bucket. All of a sudden, we don’t have it. We had to find ways to make them guard us.”
OSU battled back with Thomas scoring over Zeller on a drive and also rebounding a Craft miss for a score to cut it to 62-50 with 8:14 left. But Watford hit another trey from the left wing for a 67-52 IU lead with 6:34 left in the game.
OSU got as close as 11 at 69-58 after a Craft three with 3:27 left. Craft had a steal for a layup that trimmed it down to 10 at 72-62 with 1:25 left.
After Zeller missed a free throw, Ravenel scored inside to get it down to eight at 72-64 with 1:18 left. OSU still trailed by eight after a dunk by Thompson made it 76-68 with 25 seconds left. But Oladipo and Watford each hit a pair of free throws for IU to ice it.
* Three opposing players reached 20 points against Ohio State in a game for the first time since 1999, when three Penn State players (Joe Crispin, Dan Earl and Calvin Booth) did it.
* This was a landmark win for Indiana in several ways. It was IU’s first road win against a ranked team since a 2002 win at Indiana. It was the Hoosiers first road win against a top-10 team since a win at Notre Dame in 2000. And it was IU’s first road win over a Big Ten team ranked in the top 10 since a win at Iowa in 1993.
* Thomas now has 1,360 points for his career, good for the No. 26 spot all-time at Ohio State. With 26 points here, he moved past Jim Cleamons (1,335 points). Next on the list is Brent Darby at 1,368. Thomas reached the 20-point mark for the 12th time this year and seventh time in 11 Big Ten games.
* With Kansas losing three games over the past week-and-a-half, Ohio State had the nation’s longest streak at avoiding consecutive losses. That string is up to 122 games, dating to back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Michigan when Evan Turner was injured back in 2009-10. That streak was on the line after OSU’s loss at Michigan on Tuesday (74-72, in overtime).
Meanwhile, Indiana came into this game as the fifth consecutive No. 1 team to lose within days of achieving that ranking with Thursday’s loss at Illinois (74-72).
* This week marked just the eighth time since the start of the Associated Press rankings in 1948 that OSU played top-five teams in consecutive games. It is the first time it has happened since the 2002-03 season.
* In RPI rankings, Ohio State was 18th coming in while Indiana was 13th.
OSU drops to 1-5 against teams currently in the RPI top 25, 2-6 against teams in the top 50 and 6-6 against teams in the top 100. Indiana is now 4-1 against teams currently in the RPI top 25, 6-3 against teams in the top 50 and 9-3 against teams in the top 100.
* Overall, Ohio State is 75-101 vs. Indiana. The Buckeyes are 51-35 in Columbus. The Buckeyes had won seven of the last eight overall meetings and the last four at home.
Since the opening of Value City Arena in 1998-99, OSU is 9-4 against Indiana. The losses were in 2001, 2004, 2008 and this game.
Under Thad Matta (since 2004-05), OSU is 10-6 against Indiana. Under Crean (since 2008-09), IU is 2-7 against OSU.
* Matta’s OSU teams are a combined 39-50 against ranked teams in his nine years with the Buckeyes.
OSU is 1-6 against ranked teams this year with their loss at then-No. 2 Duke on Nov. 29 (73-68), the home loss to then-No. 9 Kansas (74-66) on Dec. 22, the loss at then No. 11-Illinois (74-55) Jan. 5, the home win over then-No. 2 Michigan (56-53) Jan. 13, the road loss at then-No. 18 Michigan State (59-56) on Jan. 19, the road loss at No. 3 Michigan (74-2, overtime) on Tuesday and this loss.
In 13 years as a college head coach, Matta’s teams are a combined 48-59 against ranked teams.
OSU is 1-4 this year against top-10 teams. The Buckeyes are 63-118 all-time against top-10 teams.
* Since Thad Matta took over Buckeye program in 2004-05, Ohio State is 149-14 in Columbus, the most home wins among Big Ten schools. This season, the Buckeyes are 12-2 at home with the previous loss to Kansas and this game.
* This was OSU’s 19th game all-time against a No. 1-ranked team. OSU is 8-11 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.
This was OSU’s first game against a No. 1 team since a Nov. 28, 2007, home loss to North Carolina (66-55). The Buckeyes are 5-5 at home all-time against No. 1 teams. OSU is now 2-3 in games against No. 1 teams under Matta. In his 13-year head coaching career, his teams are 3-4 against No. 1 teams.
This is the fourth time OSU hosted a No. 1 team at VCA. The Buckeyes had wins over Illinois in 2005 (65-64) and Wisconsin in 2007 (49-48) and the loss to North Carolina later in 2007.
The Buckeyes have faced No. 1 ranked Indiana teams now seven times and have posted a 2-5 record in those games.
* Ohio State hosts Northwestern (13-11, 4-7) Thursday (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).
* Click here for the box score of OSU-Indiana.
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