Aside from a 14-for-17 effort from the free throw line and a game-high 22 points from sophomore guard Verdell Jones, it’s hard to pinpoint anything else that went right for the Hoosiers.
IU coach Tom Crean couldn’t in the post game press conference. Neither could sophomore guards Daniel Moore or Jones before they boarded the bus to head back to Bloomington.
With all due to respect, even the IU football team played a closer game this year versus the Buckeyes, losing by just 19 points back in October.
While final scores and box scores don’t always do games justice, in this case it more or less did.
A quick glance at the stats show much of what went wrong on Wednesday: 35 missed shots including 4-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, 24 turnovers and a difference of 24-10 in favor of the Buckeyes in terms of points scored off turnovers.
Junior guard Jeremiah Rivers flushed home what was essentially an uncontested dunk less than a minute into the game, prompting a 30 second timeout by Ohio State coach Thad Matta. But IU never held a lead again and the Hoosiers were dominated on both ends of the court from that point forward.
The story from the Ohio State side of things was that star junior Evan Turner was back from a serious back injury. While he did make an impact, the Buckeyes did just fine without him.
When Turner went to the bench with two fouls nine minutes into the game, as fellow starter David Lighty had done a minute earlier, IU senior Devan Dumes responded with a two-point jumper. Then Ohio State went on a 16-0 run, extending their lead to 23 points less than 15 minutes into the game.
The Hoosiers never brought the deficit under 17 points the rest of the contest and were down by as much as 32 points at one point.
“It’s our latest experience of learning what this level is like,” Crean said.
Crean, obviously displeased with his team’s effort, admitted that nothing led him to believe they would play as poorly as they did. He said the practices, the pre-game preparations and the walk-through before the game all went well.
Listening to his comments after the game, it seemed like a mystery to him why things turned out the way they did – regardless of the fact that Ohio State with Turner at maybe just 50 or 75 percent is a better team than IU.
You could try to blame some of it on playing in their first true road game, but as Crean said, “You don’t win at home with those turnovers.”
Turner said the difference between Ohio State’s performance Wednesday and their previous two losses were that they “attacked instead of reacted.”
IU meanwhile, didn’t do a great job of attacking and even when they tried, it was to no avail.
Rivers tried penetrating, but it was like going into a black hole – the offense was sucked out. None of his teammates were hitting the open shots when he kicked out and the Buckeyes played good interior defense to prevent most of Rivers’ potential passes into the post.
Another disadvantage was Turner’s 6-foot-7 frame, which forced 6-feet-tall freshman guard Jordan Hulls to guard 6-foot-6 junior Jon Diebler who hit five 3’s and a team-high 21 points. But when Turner wasn’t playing and the smaller P.J. Hill ran the point, Hulls still struggled as Rivers tried to do his best on “Three-bler.”
Ohio State, a team that normally runs about eight deep with Evan Turner in the lineup, played 13 versus the Hoosiers, and by the 7:07 mark in the second half there was a mass exodus among the home fans.
This game was over early and the Hoosiers couldn’t jump onto the bus to go home soon enough.
With Illinois headed to town on Saturday, the only thing IU can really do at this point is to go back to the drawing board at practice. As bad as Wednesday’s performance was, it was just one game and there are 16 more to go.
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