Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - After suffering a heart-breaking loss at the
buzzer on Thursday night, the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers will try to get back
on track in Sunday's Big Ten showdown at 10th-ranked Ohio State.
Indiana won a crucial game against then top-ranked Michigan on Feb. 2, which
allowed it to climb back to No. 1 in the latest AP poll, but it promptly
dropped a road matchup with Illinois on Thursday night, 74-72, making it the
fifth consecutive week the team ranked No. 1 has lost. The Hoosiers are still
an outstanding 20-3 overall this season and 8-2 in the conference, and with a
victory in this matchup will keep pace atop the league standings.
Ohio State faced a difficult challenge in traveling to No. 3 Michigan last
Tuesday, and although it took the game to overtime it ultimately fell, 76-74,
to drop to 7-3 in league play. Prior to the setback, the Buckeyes (17-5) had
won four straight games. They'll surely welcome a return home where they've
lost just once in 13 opportunities this season.
Indiana leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 100-75, although the
Buckeyes have had the Hoosiers' number in recent years with wins in seven of
the last eight meetings.
The Hoosiers appeared well on their way to a road victory earlier in the week
when they led Illinois by 10 points with 4:21 to play, but the Illini ripped
off a furious 15-3 run down the stretch, culminating in Tyler Griffey's game-
winning layup as time expired to pull off the upset. Indiana's collapse
spoiled a great night at the offensive end where it shot 50 percent from the
floor, including 9-of-17 from 3-point range. Cody Zeller paced the squad with
14 points and nine rebounds, Will Sheehey scored 13 points from off the bench,
and Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls netted 12 and 11, respectively. IU has
one of the most prolific offenses in the country, ranking second nationally in
both scoring (83.3 ppg) and scoring margin (+21.7). Zeller, who was named the
preseason National Player of the Year, is shooting just shy of 60 percent from
the field for 16.2 ppg while adding 8.3 ppg and more than a block and a steal
per contest, and he has logged five double-doubles in 10 Big Ten games. Victor
Oladipo (13.8 ppg) is another productive player, as he is shooting 63.6
percent from the floor, while Watford (12.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Hulls (11.1 ppg)
and Sheehey (10.0 ppg) round out a balanced attack.
Down by two in the final minute of regulation, Ohio State forced overtime
following a game-tying jumper by Lenzelle Smith, Jr., but it managed to shoot
just 1-of-5 from the field in the extra session as it fell just short of the
road victory. Deshaun Thomas wasn't at his best (6-of-15), but he drained a
pair of 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points. LaQuinton Ross
netted 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench, Aaron Craft tallied 11
points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Smith, Jr. chipped in with 10
points and four assists in the setback. The Buckeyes' offensive attack isn't
nearly as potent as Indiana's, but they still score plenty of points (71.8
ppg) to support their fantastic scoring defense, which ranks second in the
conference in yielding a mere 58.1 ppg. Thomas is the Big Ten's leading scorer
at 19.9 ppg, doing so on impressive percentages from the field (.464), 3-point
range (.400), and the foul line (.823). Smith, Jr. is a solid second option
with 10.5 ppg, and Craft is a valuable asset at both ends of the court with
9.3 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.8 rpg and 1.9 spg.
The Sports Network