Know Thy Opponent: Ohio State

Last time around, Indiana caught Ohio State during its first losing streak of the season, one that continued as the Buckeyes beat the Hoosiers 85-67 on New Year’s Eve.

This time around, it’s more of the same — as the Hoosiers haven’t emerged victorious since Feb. 2 against Minnesota.

And it’s going to be yet another tall task for Indiana to pull out a victory. The Buckeyes sports the second-best offense in the Big Ten (1.15 points per possession) behind Wisconsin. They own the second-best defense (1.02 points per possession) behind Purdue.

Nationally, it’s much of the same. Ken Pomeroy ranks their offense (adjusted offensive efficiency) second in the nation — with the Badgers again besting them for the top spot. By Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, the Buckeyes are 10th nationally.

So yes: This team is quite good. But we already knew that.

Back on New Year’s Eve in the first IU-OSU tilt, freshman stud (and likely NBA lottery pick) Jared Sullinger often attracted the defense, which led to open looks for his teammates all night. Ohio State shot 68.4 percent (13-0f-19) from three and 60.5 percent (23-of-38) from the floor. That’s efficiency.

If Indiana again chooses to load up against Sullinger on defense, it could be another case of guys like Jon Diebler — a very capable shooter from beyond the arc — raining on the Hoosiers due to easy, open looks from three. We’ve seen that song and dance on several occasions this season.

And if they choose to go one-on-one on Sullinger, he could have a field day.

As coach Tom Crean noted, this team can beat you in a variety of ways. Beyond Sullinger and Diebler, William Buford’s and David Lighty’s athleticism needs to be accounted for all over the half court. And freshman Aaron Craft has given the Buckeyes another capable ballhandler, when the question heading into this season was if anyone was going to be able to step up and assume that role.

Add it all up, and things are trending towards a sixth straight loss tomorrow afternoon. But if, as Crean said, the Hoosiers play mistake-free basketball and are accountable for each other on defense, they may at least be within striking distance when crunchtime hits.

Tom Crean on Ohio State

In lieu of availability this weekend ahead of Indiana’s trip to Ohio State, we were all e-mailed a selection of thoughts from IU coach Tom Crean regarding his team’s tilt with the Buckeyes. Take a gander below to see what he said:

Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean on the Ohio State game

“First and foremost, this is another great opportunity for our players and coaches. We get to play on CBS on a Sunday afternoon against one of the top teams in the country.”

”We will have to play mistake-free and make the most of our opportunities on offense. We have to move the ball, make the extra pass and take the best shot possible each time down the floor.”

“Each game is an opportunity to find out something about yourself. When we have played with toughness and resolve we are a different basketball team, home or on the road. We have to play with trust and belief in one another and we have to play with a controlled confidence. As I said after the Purdue game, we played hard, but we didn’t always play smart.”

“Defensively, they have so many weapons that we are going to have to be active with our hands, move on the pass to disrupt what they want to do and contest every shot. We can’t allow them to be active on the offensive glass.”

On Ohio State

“Ohio State is a great example of a player-led team. Their seniors (Lighty, Diebler and Lauderdale) have done a great job of integrating their younger players.”

“I think everything starts with Diebler, because he’s as good a shooter as there is in the country and the ball continually finds him back because of the way he finds other people. They’re such a dominant team and they’re so good at so many positions that you just can’t let guys do things that they don’t normally do in games.”

“Last time against us, Buford got hot early with the three and it just created everything else for the rest of the team and we did not have an individual match-up for Jared Sullinger.”

“Ohio State is different because of how much talent they have and there are multi-dimensional. These guys can beat you from three, they can beat you from the pull-up game, they can beat you at the rim and you’ve got to get up and you’ve got to establish more will and grit and resolve to that.”

Harris, Irvin lead Hamilton SE past Lafayette Jefferson

Joe Eberhardt is a high school sports blogger and regular contributor to Inside the Hall. You can follow him on twitter at @IndyHSHoops and read his blog, IndyHSHoops.com.

LAFAYETTE – Led by great performances from IU targets Gary Harris and Zak Irvin, Hamilton Southeastern defeated Lafayette Jefferson 79-65 on Thursday night.

Harris, one of the top players in the state’s 2012 class, tallied 19 (7-12, 2-3 from 3-point range, 3-4 from the foul line) points, nine rebounds and six steals in the victory. Irvin, a 6-5 sophomore, scored 14 points (5-9 shooting, 2-3 from 3-point range, 2-2 from the foul line) and handed out six assists.

Junior point guard Jacobby Bledsoe also scored 15 points for the Royals in the win.

“When all of those guys are playing well offensively it makes us much harder to stop,” Hamilton Southeastern head coach Brian Satterfield said. “They tried to use a box and one on Gary at one point but he was still able to score some points.”

A strong scoring effort from multiple players makes Hamilton Southeastern a very dangerous team.

“It makes things flow much better when all of our guys are scoring and reliable on a given night”, said Satterfield.

Hamilton Southeastern has a bye in the first round of sectionals, awaiting the winner of Zionsville vs. Fishers.

Video from the game as well as an interview with Irvin are available after the jump.

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Photo Gallery: Purdue at Indiana

Photos courtesy of Jamie Owens of J. Scott Sports:

Purdue Postgame: Tom Crean

Watch what Indiana head coach Tom Crean had to say following Indiana’s 72-61 loss to Purdue on Wednesday at Assembly Hall. The loss dropped the Hoosiers’ to 12-16 overall and 3-12 in the Big Ten.

Purdue Postgame: Jordan Hulls, Verdell Jones

Watch what Indiana guards Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones had to say following Indiana’s 72-61 loss to Purdue on Wednesday at Assembly Hall. The loss dropped the Hoosiers’ to 12-16 overall and 3-12 in the Big Ten.

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The Minute After: Purdue

Thoughts on a 72-61 loss to Purdue:

Open thread tonight. Have at it, kids. We’ll link the box when it’s live.

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