(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)
Ohio State hosted Indiana in the return match of the regular season. The Buckeyes came out on the short end when they last met in Bloomington on January 11th, 66-54. We are now ate the midpoint of conference play and Ohio State is in the unenviable position of needing some wins here and there to improve their position for the B1G Tournament as well as avoid being swept in head-to-head play by several teams.
The Buckeyes (14-7, 4-6) evened the series with a solid 68-59 win over the Hoosiers (15-7, 5-6). Ohio State did this playing short-handed at the point guard position. D.J. Carton announced a leave of absence, length TBD, due to mental health concerns. Take as long as you need D.J.; basketball is a great game, but it’s only a game.
Ohio State took the early lead, gave it back to Indiana, but regained the lead, 9-7 3:15 into the game never to lose the lead again. During that early stretch, Ohio State was 4-5 from the field with three of the FGs assisted. The tone of play was being set. At the 9:35 mark, Ohio State had extended lead to double digits, 20-10, and the game would, aside from a couple second half scoring runs by each team, stay at that spread. DeVonte Green rang up a 3-pt’er with :13 to get the final margin into single digits, 68-59.
The Buckeyes had four players score in double figures. Kaleb Wesson led with an efficient (7-12 shooting) 15 points. He was followed by CJ Walker with 14, Justin Ahrens with 11 and Andre Wesson with 10. Kaleb pulled in a game high 11 rebounds for another double-double and Andre led the team with 4 assists.
The Hoosiers had two players in double figures. DeVonte Green had 13 points and Rob Phinisee had 11. Trayce Jackson-Davis had 7 rebounds while Aljami Durham and Phinisee had 3 assists each.
Ohio State shot 46% (26-56) from the field, 37% (10-27) from 3-point range and 75% (6-8) from the foul line.
Indiana shot 45% from the field (19-42), 58% (7-12) from 3-point range and 78% (14-18) from the foul line.
Several things worked out well Saturday afternoon:
- Justin Ahrens might be finding his groove, due to increased playing time. He was extraordinarily efficient in the second half. Although he played only four minutes, he led OSU with 9 points (as did Kaleb) on 3-4 shooting.
- Guard play was actually pretty good. The team had a (relatively) low 10 turnovers and 19 assists. Their ‘assist/FG’ of 73% was substantially higher than their season average of 58%.
- Rebounding was exceptionally good. The teams entered the game averaging about the same. Ohio State out-rebounded Indiana 31-24, with the difference being OSU’s seven rebound edge in offensive rebounds. Ohio State outscored Indiana 8-0 in “second chance points, thanks to this effort.
- Duane Washington Jr and Luther Mohammad are still struggling with consistently putting the ball in the hoop. The duo combined for 3-17 shooting (1-10 from 3-pt range). If D.J. Carton will be our for an indefinite period, these two need to step up their shooting.
- Okay, I get it that late in the game, Ohio State had the situation well in hand. With 3:40 remaining, Ohio State held an 18 points lead, 65-47. For the balance of the game, Indiana outscored Ohio State 12-3. This team needs to have a better “close-out” mentality.
Ohio State (14-7, 4-6) is currently in 11th place in the B1G Conference. TeamRankings.com has them projected to go 6-4 to finish the regular season. I have them at 5-5. Close enough…
With D.J. Carton out indefinitely, Justin Ahrens is seeing his time increase. Playing at a hybrid #2 – #3 position, that’s working out fine. The issue is that neither D-Wash nor Luther are point guard material. This is the time for CJ to rely on his experience to run this team.
The Buckeyes head to Ann Arbor, MI for their initial meeting this season against the Wolverines (12-4, 3, 2-3). The game is scheduled for Tuesday, February 4th with tip-off at 7:00 pm ET. You can watch the game on BTN or listen to it on 97.1 TheFan. Or both.