On Saturday morning, the Indiana Hoosiers traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in a conference matchup that would help determine their seeds in this year’s Big Ten tournament.
As the first half fell underway, the Hoosiers swiftly silenced the Buckeyes’ home crowd, going on an 11-0 run in the opening minutes. After posting an 18-point lead about midway through the first, Indiana furthered their momentum, heading into the half up 54-40.
However, in the second, Ohio State came out with some fire beneath its feet. The Buckeyes’ noteworthy efforts eventually paid off with 11:37 remaining in the second half, as they captured their first lead of the afternoon, 62-61.
The lead would switch hands between both teams just twice in the second. Nevertheless, despite Ohio State’s relentless play, it was Indiana who held on down the stretch, picking up a 96-92 victory.
Let’s see what we learned from the game
What We Learned
1. Indiana Was Hot
In the first half, it appeared that Ohio State’s home court advantage had little to no effect on Indiana’s performance. The Hoosiers dominated in the first half, shooting 65 percent from the field and 58 percent from three. Those stats were the result of four of Indiana’s five starters notching double figures at the half.
Although Ohio State was able to manufacture a comeback in the second, Indiana’s collective team effort proved to be too much for them to handle. Indiana’s 96 points are the most an opponent has ever scored inside Value City Arena. Junior guard Robert Johnson paved the way for the Hoosiers with his 26-point, six-rebound and six-assist showing, as junior guard James Blackmon Jr. contributed 22 points and eight rebounds.
While Indiana has undoubtedly struggled in conference play this season, this win will likely provide the team with some much-needed momentum moving forward.
2. Their Seeds In The Big Ten Tournament Are Almost Set
The implications of this Big Ten battle were clear, as neither team held the aspiration of playing in opening round of the conference tournament this Wednesday. Now that the outcome of this game resulted in an Indiana triumph, Ohio State will be either the No. 11 or No. 12 seed in the tournament. The Michigan and Nebraska game this Sunday, will ultimately be the deciding factor of Ohio State’s and Indiana’s seeding.
If Nebraska is able to defeat Michigan on Sunday, Indiana’s No. 10 seed will be set. Each team has struggled in conference play this season, but anything can happen in the Big Ten tournament. Indiana is a team that could potentially cause a stir in the tournament, should it build off of its first half efforts against Ohio state.
3. James Blackmon Jr. Is Back
After suffering a lower leg injury earlier this season against Michigan, Blackmon Jr. has gradually gotten back into his rhythm. In Indiana’s 63-62 win against Northwestern, Blackmon Jr. scored a team-high 13 points. He followed that performance with another team-high of 16 points and five assists in Indiana’s 86-75 loss to Purdue. With Blackmon Jr.’s notable 22-point, eight-rebound showing against Ohio State, there’s no denying that the talented guard is playing at a high level, at a very opportune time.
With Johnson, Blackmon Jr. and sophomore center Thomas Bryant leading the way, Indiana showed some promise in its win over Ohio State. If redshirt-junior guard Josh Newkirk can continue to put up similar numbers to his 18-point, five-assist, two-rebound contribution against Ohio State, Indiana will prosper.
However, In order to further its momentum, Blackmon Jr. must continue to step up. The 6-foot-4 guard will be a key to the Hoosiers’ postseason success. His recent standout play should provide Indiana fans with some hope heading into the Big Ten tournament.
Ohio State and Indiana will both set their sights on the Big Ten tournament. While Ohio State’s positioning may not have been ideal, it will have to make the most out of the situation on Wednesday. Indiana will look to build off of this win into the conference tournament, as it takes on the No. 7 seed Thursday at 6:30 p.m.