For much of this game, the Hoosiers were giving us some painful flashbacks.
Not to the team that had won their final four games of the season, but to the team that had lost 12 of 13 and looked dead in the water. Ohio State employed a similar strategy to the first match-up between these two teams, clogging the paint and daring Indiana to shoot the ball from the perimeter.
And Indiana played right into their hands.
The Hoosiers found themselves constantly settling for shots from behind the arc, and as they did so, they found the Buckeye lead slowly growing larger. The return of Kaleb Wesson proved to be a big boon for the Buckeyes, as not only did he punish Indiana offensively, but he used his size to altar shots around the rim and made it tough for the Hoosiers to get going downhill.
To put it bluntly, the Hoosiers were being outplayed in every possible facet of the game, and soon enough found themselves trailing by as many as 20 in the second half. Yet, the Hoosiers didn’t give in.
Devonte Green, playing perhaps the best game of his career, almost single-handedly willed the Hoosiers back to life in this one. Green scored a career-high 26 points, including knocking down 8 of his 10 shots behind the arc to pull the Hoosiers to within two points.
Yet in the end, it just wasn’t enough.
For as great as Indiana looked in the final ten minutes, they looked nearly as bad in the first 30 minutes and simply didn’t have enough time to pull off the miraculous comeback. Between settling for outside jumpers and the frustrating turnovers, the Hoosiers simply dug themselves too deep of a hole. Ohio State would end the game with a 24-6 advantage in second chance points off 17 Hoosier turnovers, and a Hoosiers team that had made massive improvements in taking care of the ball simply couldn’t keep it up in the biggest game of the year. Green and Rob Phinisee in particular had done a very good job of staying under control and limiting turnovers, but their 7 turnovers today represented Indiana’s struggles in that department.
Now, the Hoosiers will be forced to sweat it out on Selection Sunday, hoping their six quadrant one wins will be enough for the committee to put them into the tournament. All signs point to this team being in the NIT, but the amount of quality wins Indiana possesses will at least make it a point of discussion for the committee. Whether or not it will be enough remains to be seen.