First Thoughts from OSU's 81-68 Loss to Indiana
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Well, my first thought is that it's fortunate that Ohio State only lost by 13 points.
What we saw in this game is an Indiana team that had an answer for everything the Buckeyes threw at it. No flash card existed that didn't have a quick Hoosier answer.
When they missed a shot, they'd get an offensive rebound. (They had 13 to Ohio State's 7). When the Buckeyes would try to turn up the tempo, Indiana would turn it up faster. When the Buckeyes wanted to slow it down, the Hoosiers would oblige until they could find an open shot to make.
Basically, Indiana's offense was just too good, making Ohio State's defense work even harder, and simultaneously putting immense pressure on the Buckeyes' inconsistent offense to suddenly be more consistent than it had been all season long.
Tom Crean could not have asked his team to play a better game than what he got from them. Ohio State was clearly frustrated when they couldn't make a run, which only gave the Hoosiers more confidence in the second half.
This was not a good matchup for Ohio State, and it won't be any other time they meet them this season either. The loss at Michigan was nearly a positive in that it showed what the Buckeyes were capable of, but this game is a complete negative because it shows just how far Ohio State is away from beating a very good team that plays a great game.
Let's Blame the Men in Stripes. Refs are some of the worst people in the world. They are responsible for all of the bad parking that you see in the grocery store parking lots. They are the people who drive seven miles under the speed limit in the left lane. They are the people who eat the last piece of pizza even though they never contribute to the fund. But let's be clear about one thing, they had nothing to do with Ohio State losing this game.
The Buckeyes came into this game planning to play physical basketball, and you saw what happened. They were whistled for 27 fouls and could have been called for twice that number.
Thad Matta knew that his team couldn't play Indiana's game and come away with the win, so they tried to push Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo around. They combined to score 50 points, and hit 16-21 shots from the field and 17-21 from the free throw line, so the plan obviously didn't work.
Both players played extremely well and Ohio State had no answer for either of them. Indiana could have put the Buckeyes in much worse foul trouble if they wanted to, but they probably didn't think that that would have been a very sporting competition.
Taking the Initiative. It was good to see LaQuinton Ross again being assertive on offense. He is taking the ball to the basket with regularity and not looking out of place while finishing.
Perhaps his best moment, however, came in the first half. With Indiana leading it 14-13, Ross went to the rim and scored, ultimately converting a three-point play. But it was the following possession that really impressed me. He got the ball down low, took his time, and made a confident and definitive move on a turnaround shot.
I'm sure he does that every day in practice, but it was good to see in an actual game as well. Even when his shots didn't fall, it wasn't because he wasn't sure of what he was doing. Ross is almost in complete control of his game right now, save for the ongoing dribbling issues.
Centers of Attention. Not that this game surprised anybody, but the disparity between Cody Zeller and Amir Williams/Evan Ravenel was still striking. Ohio State's three centers combined for five points and 10 rebounds to Zeller's 24 points and eight rebounds.
After a strong second half against Michigan, Williams said that that was the hardest he had ever played, and that he needed to continue playing that way. On Sunday, it wouldn't have mattered how he played, because it wouldn't have been good enough.
Zeller is at another level than what the Buckeyes are able to trot out onto the court, and Ohio State will always be in trouble when facing a solid team with a very competent center. That doesn't mean that they can't succeed, it just means that everybody is going to have to step their games up just a bit in order to make it happen.
Quick Thoughts. I understand Thad Matta wanting to go with defense (Sam Thompson) over offense (LaQuinton Ross) at times, but when that defense isn't working, it might be time to go with more of the offense. Overall, I thought Ross had some good moments on defense, but it just seems like he and Thompson will never see much of the court together until next year. Right now Matta is in the unfortunate position of playing either/or with these two players, and that won't change until Deshaun Thomas is either in the NBA, or Thompson is a full-fledged shooting guard. ... Aaron Craft's offense the last four games (13.5 ppg) is good to see with March heading right for us, but is it coincidence that the Buckeyes are .500 in those games? ... Yes, it is coincidence.
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