It’s been a long two months for Indiana basketball fans.
It’s been a season with many highs and recently, unfortunately, many more lows; as a result, Indiana found themselves with their backs against the wall. Sunday’s match-up certainly felt like as close to a must-win game as it could possibly be, and Indiana’s tournament hopes seemingly hinged on the outcome of today’s performance.
And Indiana couldn’t deliver.
Offensively, the Hoosiers put forth one of their worst performances of the season. Their 52 points represented their third-lowest mark of the season, and their .88 points per possession were not much better. Ohio State was constantly going underneath screens all night and packing the paint, daring the Hoosiers to beat them from the outside, and Indiana couldn’t make them pay.
Indiana would finish just 6-of-20 from behind the arc on the night, though four of those makes came within the final six minutes of regulation. Once Indiana was able to get some outside shots to go, they were able to claw their way back into it, and even take the lead with less than two minutes to go.
Yet the Hoosiers couldn’t finish this one off, as a deep three from Ohio State immediately stole the momentum back and carried the Buckeyes to a victory. With the win, the Buckeyes themselves in a great position to make the tournament, and all but extinguished the Hoosiers’ chances.
Defensively, for the most part, Indiana played well enough to win this game. They held the Buckeyes to .93 points per possession and just 55 points total on the night. At times the Indiana perimeter defense struggled to find shooters and the Hoosier frontcourt had difficulty with Ohio State’s size inside, two trends that have plagued Indiana for stretches throughout this season. Yet overall, the Indiana defense was acceptable.
Indiana will be forced to go back to the drawing board, now losers of nine of their last ten games, and try to find a way to salvage this season. In theory, the Hoosiers have several remaining games against quality opponents to strengthen their resume, but with their recent level of play, any tournament hopes the Hoosiers have look far-fetched at best.