IU’s biggest comeback in over 25 years yields a road win against Ohio State

  • 02/07/2024 8:05 am in

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was an uninspired effort for Indiana for the first 20 minutes against Ohio State.

The group looked worn down and found itself in a 13-point deficit in an uninspiring first half. The energy was low and as they walked off at the halftime buzzer, any positive vibes surrounding the team were non-existent.

Indiana had all the reason to give up and call it a day. It seemed like the episode that played out against Penn State three days prior would unfold again: no effort, no energy, another loss.

But as the Hoosiers walked off into the 15-minute break, the mindset flipped.

Four minutes and 32 seconds remained on the arena clock for halftime, counting down the start until the second half. The entire Indiana team had just walked out into the hallway, getting ready to run out onto the court, but as the team was about to step toward the floor, Trey Galloway called everyone back. Everyone turned their heads and gathered around their senior captain. A small huddle formed and each player listened.

“Play for each other,” Galloway exclaimed. “This is about ourselves.”

Then, as a group, Indiana ran back out for the second half.

Galloway’s short but effective halftime speech opened the door for Indiana’s largest comeback since 1998. Backed up by the efforts of Galloway, Anthony Leal, and Malik Reneau in the second half, Indiana was able to storm its way back Tuesday night and earn a 76-73 win against Ohio State at Value City Arena. Mike Woodson has been asking for his players to step up to the occasion, and against the Buckeyes, his wish finally came true.

Indiana had nothing going in the first half, but the second-half resurgence sprung into action as it was kickstarted by both Galloway and Leal. The duo combined for 25 points, six assists, and nine rebounds in the second half while being the most significant factors on the floor.

Late in the game is when the duo mattered most. With five minutes left, Galloway got the ball back for his team after an offensive foul was called on Bruce Thornton. A few plays later, Galloway was the one who passed it out to Leal for a corner 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to take a one-point lead. The connection between the two guards late in the game makes it easier to see how this comeback came to fruition.

“When I think about when I played, coach always placed it on the senior guys to lead and do the things that help us win,” Woodson said. “I thought tonight Gallo was huge in the second half. Our defense was solid; we held this team to 31 points. That was the difference in the ball game. Gallo down the stretch, and then Leal making the big three. It was huge.”

But the upperclassmen were not alone in the comeback effort.

Indiana’s leading scorer, Malik Reneau, finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Reneau continued to showcase his improvement and had 16 of his 26 points in the second half. When Indiana needed a basket, they went to Reneau. The sophomore forward provided a solid defensive presence alongside the offense.

“He’s ultra-talented,” Leal said. “He’s basically impossible to guard down there without fouling, so that and then the combination of him last year learning from two guys that were big-time veterans in Race (Thompson) and Trayce (Jackson-Davis).”

It’s been a long season for Indiana, and through the first 22-plus minutes, it seemed like another low point would be hit for the Hoosiers. Instead, this group proved they would still put up a fight. After Saturday’s debacle against Penn State, the victory put Indiana’s spirits back in the right direction.

The Hoosiers now have a Big Ten road comeback win on their ledger thanks to a pair of senior guards and an underclassman who has blossomed into one of the league’s best frontcourt players.

“Everyone that was playing out there tonight knew what was at stake,” Woodson said. “We’ve been struggling, and this was a game where we knew we had to come in here and play well because they didn’t forget what happened in our place. I thought they played extremely well in the first half and held a comfortable lead. It was our defense and rebounding and making good offense decisions coming down the stretch that allowed us to come out here and get the win.”

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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