Buckeyes seek third straight victory
Ohio State is seeking a third consecutive win after barely surviving its first Big Ten road test.
The No. 22 Buckeyes could be in for another stiff challenge Saturday against Indiana, which has made a habit of knocking off ranked opponents at home.
Ohio State (13-3, 2-1) split its first two conference games with Iowa and Illinois before escaping with a 74-72 overtime victory at Minnesota on Tuesday. Star freshman D’Angelo Russell scored 25 of his 27 points in the first half as the Buckeyes took a 12-point lead into the break before letting up.
Marc Loving scored 13, including the go-ahead jumper with 5.6 seconds left in OT.
"I loved the fashion that we won it, but it took a couple years off my life," coach Thad Matta said.
Senior Shannon Scott finished with 10 assists for Ohio State, which shot 50.8 percent but made 6 of 12 from the foul line.
"Whatever we had to do, if it was an ugly win or if it was a cute win, no matter what we just had to get the win," said Russell, who shot 0 for 7 after halftime. "That was definitely ugly."
Things aren’t likely to get much easier at Indiana, where the Hoosiers have won five straight and 13 of their last 15 against Top 25 foes. Indiana beat then-No. 22 SMU 74-68 on Nov. 20 in its only such game this season.
The Hoosiers had dropped six straight in the series before taking three of the last five, including a 72-64 home win over the then-No. 22 Buckeyes on March 2. Yogi Ferrell led the way with 20 points for Indiana as Ohio State dropped to 24-62 in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers (11-4, 1-1) opened Big Ten play with a 70-65 win at Nebraska last Wednesday, but they were outplayed in almost every facet in Monday’s 70-50 loss at Michigan State. Ferrell was the only Hoosier to reach double figures with 17 points as Indiana shot a season-worst 28.3 percent.
"This league is obviously very unforgiving. They could care less what you did the last game," coach Tom Crean said. "When you’re playing really good teams, you can’t get discouraged, you have to keep coming."
The Hoosiers were outrebounded 50-28 and finished with a season-low eight assists. Starting forwards Troy Williams and Hanner Mosquera-Perea played a combined 27 scoreless minutes for Indiana, which had scored at least 70 points in every game before getting shut down.
"We just have to be much more efficient with our purpose and how we play," Crean said. "We will get back at it and keep improving. We are not going to change how we practice, and certainly not change what we have been doing to get better. We just have to get our urgency revisited, quickly."
James Blackmon Jr. has managed eight points in each of the last two games while shooting a combined 3 of 23. Blackmon is averaging a team-leading 16.6 points to rank second among Big Ten freshmen behind Russell’s mark of 18.3.
Indiana leads the league with 82.9 points per game, just ahead of Ohio State’s 82.8. The Buckeyes are shooting 52.2 percent for the nation’s third-best mark.
The Hoosiers are 9-1 on their own court while the Buckeyes are 1-2 away from home, though both defeats came against Top 25 opponents.