The Minute After: Ohio State

vic

Thoughts on an 81-68 win over the Buckeyes:

Backs against the wall after Thursday’s slipup in Champaign, and the Hoosiers put it together for a full 40 in Columbus. There would be no building of a lead only to see it wilt away. There would be no nitpicking about Indiana still missing a quality road win on the resume after this one. The critics have been silenced, and maybe Indiana’s No. 1 ranking is here to stay.

We whine about Cody Zeller not getting enough touches, whine about his teammates not looking for him and him not looking for the ball, but not today. Zeller was aggressive from the opening tip and went after Amir Williams time and again, getting him into foul trouble (four) and forcing Thad Matta to play his reserves more with Williams only logging 11 minutes. Zeller not only was doing things on both blocks — the hook in the lane, the turn to the baseline stepback jumper — but he hit a crucial 17-footer from the baseline in the second half after a Christian Watford offensive rebound kept the possession for Indiana, making sure Ohio State wouldn’t get back in this one. And because he was being so aggressive, Zeller got to the line a ton and converted (8-of-11). He finished the afternoon with 24 points (8-of-11 shooting), eight rebounds and a block.

But Indiana would also get huge offensive contributions from Victor Oladipo (career-high 26 points, 8-of-10 from the field, 9-of-10 from the line) and Christian Watford (20 points). Oladipo scored from all areas of the floor (beyond the arc, at the rim and in the mid-range) and just continues to shine as one of the elite players in all of college basketball. At one point in the first, Oladipo caught an oop from Jordan Hulls and scored it on the other side of the rim. He followed that up with an offensive rebound where he knifed down the lane and dunked it home with authority.

Watford hit some huge 3-pointers including one the Indiana possession before Zeller’s aforementioned jumper which kept the Buckeyes at bay. The normally even-keeled Watford also showed a rare bit of fire late, slamming the ball to the ground after a late LaQuinton Ross foul ended up with Ross slapping down for the ball and catching Watford across the face.

Three strong individual performances for the Hoosiers, but perhaps most impressive was the collective effort in the halfcourt. Like we saw against the Illini on Thursday, the Hoosiers didn’t get much of anything going in transition — just eight fastbreak points this afternoon — and so they’d have to make their mark in the halfcourt against the 11th best defense in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pom. And that they did. Sometimes it was the sharing of the ball and the bleeding of the shot clock until the Hoosiers found a good shot. Other times — as Clark Kellogg described it — the Hoosiers went smashmouth, getting Zeller the ball and letting him go to work. He would either find the contact and get to the line or convert the basket.

The Hoosiers scored 1.28 points per possession with little transition work against this stout Ohio State defense with a supreme on-ball defender in Aaron Craft and length just about everywhere else. They also limited their turnovers (just eight) this afternoon, another positive in a category the Hoosiers have struggled with for much of conference play.

Indiana’s defense held the Buckeyes to just .98 points per possession and it was rare Ohio State would string together a few possessions where they were scoring on each. It took Deshaun Thomas 20 shots to score his 26 points — several of which were contested long 2s, the most inefficient shot on the floor. The Hoosiers simply didn’t make it easy for the Buckeyes most of the afternoon and their shooting numbers are proof. They shot just 42.4 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from the 3-point line.

It all amounted to Indiana’s first win against a Top 10 team on the road since 2000, a statement victory in the face of criticism and a possibly retained No. 1 ranking. Sunday afternoon in Columbus, and the Hoosiers redeemed.

  • SCHoosier

    Funny last para MIllia..but geez..they had 3 guys foul out including Craft..we had none. The first two fouls on Yogi were awful..but I loved it that he was on the floor at games end and Craft was on the bench. Appropriate that Craft fouled out of the same call that they hit WAT with twice at ILL .”.a moving screen on a ball hand off.” Yogi had one shot attempt..four assists and only one TO against Craft. While I understand the “hate” on the guy..he could run my team any day. Thomas isn’t well liked either ..but I’d like to be collecting his agent’s fee this spring. Still gotta play them at A-H..so I’ll be “respectful” until we get’em at home.

  • calbert40

    Compare VO’s line to Thomas’s.

    Victor: 33 mins, 26 pts, 8 reb (3 off), 3 A, 2 St.

    Thomas: 40 mins, 26 pts, 7 reb (2 off), 1 blk.

    Pretty similar. The biggest difference? Victor scored 26 pts on 8-10 shooting. Thomas scored his 26 on 8-20 shooting! I’ve never been a fan of volume-type scorers. Burke is in the same category. People like to look at a player’s PPG, but they ignore how efficient he is. Scoring 26 points on only 10 shots means Victor didn’t force the action, but when he did get the chance, he made the Bucks pay.

    All around amazing game for him (and Zeller and CWat).

  • calbert40

    They played like Wooden’s famous quote: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Under control nearly the entire game. Great game plan.

  • calbert40

    Craft set at least 8 moving screens, and the worst part about it was that he did them out top in front of the whole world to see! I about lost my religion in the 1st half with the officiating. Unless the NCAA has changed the rules, pivoting into a defensive player after you have set, and then sticking your butt into him as he runs by. Ugh.

  • calbert40

    That was the worst call of the game. I agree. I paused the DVR. Screamed. Scared my kids. My wife yelled at me, but I made her watch it, and she agreed that it was ridiculous.

  • calbert40

    That was the worst call of the game. I agree. I paused the DVR. Screamed. Scared my kids. My wife yelled at me, but I made her watch it, and she agreed that it was ridiculous.

  • IUMIKE1

    I guess that was kinda dumb on part. If there was a play in a game against O$U and it was where one of their players got the call instead of the call going against them like it should have it would just about have to be He Who Never Fouls.

  • wesmont

    I agree you about the great coaching and planning in this game,and I was one of the biggest critics about coaching decisions at ILL.Great plan by Crean to pound it in against a team willing to single Cody the whole game.You know who blundered here?Matta.No excuse for staying with a game plan the wasn’t working.He should have started double teaming Cody in the post.

  • Benhyoung14

    It’s going to be really interesting over the next few years when players like Deshaun Thomas and Greg Oden don’t go to OSU.

  • Benhyoung14

    I’d love to be inside his head and hear what he was thinking. Ball, ball, ball, ball…JAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Yeah, I meant the whole line for sure, including the 8-10 of shooting, 1-1 from three, and 9-10 from the line. Add in only one foul while we are at, guarding the Big Ten’s top scorer for the bulk of the game. The only knock was that he led the team in turnovers with three. But even that sounds good. Our player with the most turnovers had three!

  • http://twitter.com/IUMitchell Deon M

    40 mins of great basketball from our team. I still like the first half of the Minnesota game.

  • http://twitter.com/IUMitchell Deon M

    After last season success. This is the vision I think we all had. Imagine if Jordan Hulls shots were going in.

  • calbert40

    I figured you meant the whole line. My comment was directed at the people who claim that Thomas is the best scorer in the B1G. He may score more points than anyone in the conference, but he isn’t the best scorer. Certainly not the most efficient!

  • unclekerfuffle

    Ken:

    My wife and I were having this exact conversation over coffee this morning and agreed that clearing the table in the regular season and the BT tourney is not a pipe dream. Like you, though, I think it is realistic to expect us to lose to either MU or MSU or both. In that latter scenario, I suspect we would still get a share of the title. However, we need to win the title outright because of its long term impact.

    At this point, I think the importance of winning the BT is bigger for the Hoosiers than the rest of the teams. One, it solidifies our comeback and, secondly, it would assure the #1 seed in the Midwest coming through Indy. That “home court’ advantage cannot be overrated.

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