COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was ugly from start to finish.
Two games in three days, and the latter being on the road against the No. 17 team in the nation, spells disaster. It was exactly that for the Hoosiers against Ohio State.
One of IU’s strengths this season has been giving relentless effort to fill the void left by the lack of talent on the roster. The Hoosiers had played one of the best games of the season against No. 3 Purdue and had a hard task of following it up with the same energy on the road against another ranked opponent.
Flustered early on, out-muscled in the paint and out-shot from the field, IU also mixed in lazy passes on offense and bad shot selections. It was just that kind of night for IU.
The only thing worse than the game was the energy in Value City Arena, where the applause was loudest for the Ohio State football team when they were honored for their Cotton Bowl victory during a timeout.
The sad part is, you could’ve seen it coming before the game even started.
The 71-56 drubbing of the Hoosiers could be pointed to the lack of rest the team had to recover for this one. You could see the lack of energy on both sides of the court.
It was a type of game where a team has to rely on veterans to keep the team afloat. The problem for IU was it didn’t get much help from its own.
The first bucket to be scored by a senior didn’t come until there was 15:44 remaining in the second half. It wasn’t scored by guards Robert Johnson or Josh Newkirk, either. Forward Freddie McSwain was the one to fill the stat sheet for IU’s upperclassmen, and it didn’t come until his sixth shot attempt of the night.
There was little to no motion on offense for IU, and the defense looked worse. Failed rotations and short attention spans left multiple Buckeyes with open looks from the field.
The most-alarming observations from the game were the little things that made the loss seem like a bigger deficit than it really was. IU only lost by 15, yet it felt like they got drilled by 20 or more.
Entry passes at the ankles. Double dribbles and travels that weren’t called by the referees. Heavily-contested off-balance jumpers. You name it. IU had it all.
Buckeye forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Kaleb Wesson feasted in the paint all night, and Ohio State always seemed to be one step, one jump or one pass ahead of the Hoosiers.
It was a neck-in-neck second half, where IU and Ohio State both scored 33 points each. The problem was the flat start the Hoosiers had, and it proved costly in the end. There were similarities to the performance against Michigan on Dec. 2, 2017. Back then, the game was the start of a two-game stretch in three days instead of the back end of one.
The Big Ten’s scheduling flaws were exposed once again Tuesday night. Even if IU was a top-25 team, fighting for seeding in the NCAA Tournament, it’s hard to say whether or not the performance would’ve been the same.
It’s a tough task for anyone to play two 40-minute games on such short rest, and it’s even harder to do when one game is on the road.
It’s the third time the Hoosiers have played two games in three days so far this season, and they have to endure it one more time before the regular season comes to an end.
In those games, IU has only won twice. With Michigan State at home and Rutgers on the road, the next two results could be even uglier.
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