Indiana 59, Ohio State 53.

Here's the box. IU finally played well in a game against a somewhat quality opponent on the road and led most of the way against Ohio State in Columbus. IU now begins a three game homestand against Wisconsin (Wednesday) Michigan State (Saturday) and Purdue (Tuesday) that likely will decide the Big Ten championship. If IU wins the next three, the Hoosiers likely will become the favorite to win the conference. Any misstep would give an advantage to whichever team manages to beat IU in Bloomington. Thanks to Purdue's win in Madison on Saturday, the Boilers are in a great position, but are disadvantaged in that they have to go to Bloomington and IU doesn't have to go to Mackey. Sometime early in the week I will take a look at the four contenders' remaining schedules (OSU's loss today probably ended OSU's slim hopes).
This was a snail slow game, if my math is correct, about 56.5 possessions per. OSU is always a slow, defensive minded team, and IU's zone really forced the Buckeyes to take their time today. OSU shot only 7-27 from three point range (26.5%), and that accounted for over half of OSU's 53 field goal attempts. In short, the zone worked, in that it forced a poor three point shooting team to bomb away (although OSU did shoot 50 percent from 2). Both teams had identical rebound numbers (10 offensive, 23 defensive), with both teams holding their own on the defensive end. Uncharacteristically, IU shot only one free throw until the last minute of the game, when OSU was forced to start fouling, but finished 7-7 for the game. OSU was 4-8 from the line. IU's total of seven turnovers isn't quite as impressive as it might be given the pace, but that's still less than a 13 percent turnover percentage. Very good. While IU led for most of the way, this really was a game of inches. IU shot just a bit better from the field, took just a little better care of the ball, and made free throws at the end. Still, a nice win over a talented team in a situation that seemed ripe for letdown. I'll come back with an edit to discuss the individual lines.
EDIT: the individuals:
  • Absent a big change, I think DJ White will edge his teammate Eric Gordon for Big Ten MVP. White was great again today: 10-15 from the field, 13 rebounds, 21 points.
  • Gordon scored 15 points on 10 shots, thanks to 3-8 from three point range. Gordon shot (and made) four free throws, all in the last 30 seconds of the game. He had two turnovers, but both were offensive fouls, one obvious and the other iffy.
  • Jordan Crawford has been infuriating at times this season, but he's going to be a great player. Crawford has shot very well at times this season (not today), but he really played well outside of his 3-10 shooting today: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, no turnovers.
  • Lance Stemler really struggled: 1-6 from the field, including 0-4 from three. A couple of his good looks could have secured this game before the final minute.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens to the rotation at the 4. Kyle Taber played 16 minutes today, Mike White 2, Stemler 24, and Deandre Thomas none. It will be best for the team in the long term if White and Thomas can earn some of Stemler's and Taber's minute with their play, but Sampson seems to be sick of waiting for them to do so.

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