As great a win as this was for Indiana, watching this game was an exercise in pain until the final minute. As the announcers mentioned during the game and as was obvious to anyone watching the game, there was a choppiness to the game in large part because of the number of fouls called: IU had 20 fouls, Ohio State had 22. IU shot 15-22 from the line; Ohio State was 19-26. Cody Zeller was the only player for either team who fouled out, but Ohio State's top three scorers, Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, and William Buford, spent time on the bench in foul trouble (each finished with four). So, how did the Hoosiers do it?The turnover numbers are key. As I noted in my preview, Ohio State excels at taking care of the ball and forcing the other team into lots of turnovers. The same is true of IU, of course, but it was the Hoosiers who held to form. Ohio State coughed the ball up on 24 percent of its possessions, its worst total of the season, and forced IU into turnovers on only 16.6 percent of its possessions, the second-lowest for OSU of the season (only notoriously sure-handed Northwestern has taken better care of the ball against the Buckeyes this year). The turnover numbers were key, because in nearly every other respect (IU was modestly better at three point production), the Buckeyes had a modest advantage. OSU shot a higher percentage from the field, shot more free throws, made more free throws, and had an advantage on the offensive boards (each team had 9 offensive boards, but IU had more opportunities). One of the most enjoyable things about watching this IU team is knowing that the Hoosiers are making life very difficult for opposing offenses. We've seen very little of that in recent years. No Big Ten team is going to look forward to visiting Assembly Hall, and IU now is in a good position to win all of its home games.
From an individual perspective, Jordan Hulls recovered from a tough night in East Lansing to lead all scorers with 17 points and 4-5 from behind the arc (although he did miss a free throw in Big Ten play for the first time since his freshman year). Cody Zeller was in foul trouble, and was limited to 21 minutes, but scored 14 points, including on 5-9 from the field, and had three offensive rebounds. Christian Watford struggled from the field (3-10) but finished with 10 points and 6 boards. Victor Oladipo is everywhere, and played some effective defense on Aaron Craft for part of the game. He scored 15 points on 7-13 shooting and had 6 boards and 3 steals. Derek Elston played well when Zeller was in foul trouble, with 4 points and 4 rebounds. Elston provided IU's only bench points, which is worth a reminder that IU is playing without Will Sheehey, its key bench contributor. Still, it was another balanced effort, with five Hoosiers in double figures but with no one over 17.
We really couldn't have asked for anything more from this team to this point. IU is 13-1, 1-1 in the conference, and now has three very winnable games (Michigan, @ Penn State, Minnesota) before the return game in Columbus on January 15. All of IU's goals, even those that seemed absurd before the season, still are in reach.