COLUMBUS, Ohio — The tank was empty for IU.
After nearly knocking off No. 3 Purdue at home on Sunday, the Hoosiers made the quick turnaround to play two days later at No. 17 Ohio State.
The energy IU showed against the Boilermakers was nonexistent Tuesday with the Buckeyes winning decisively, 71-56.
“We have to raise our level,” IU Coach Archie Miller said. “Obviously, we had a tough turnaround after the Purdue game. But the physicality, the effort level, the aggressiveness that we needed just wasn’t there.”
From start-to-finish, Ohio State outplayed IU with the Buckeyes seizing control of the game in the early minutes. It took Ohio State less than 10 minutes to get out to a 15-point lead, which it would not relinquish.
Throughout the game, IU seemingly couldn’t string together enough solid possessions on either end of the court. Never truly in the game after a lifeless first half, IU failed to go on any significant run where it looked like it could close the gap whatsoever.
That poor first half costed IU as the Buckeyes raced out to a substantial 15-point halftime lead after shooting 63-percent from the field. The Hoosiers would never recover from that deficit and barely even cut into it in the second half.
“You’ve got to come out and fight,” junior forward Juwan Morgan said. “Everybody is playing the same amount of games as we are. We can’t go out and play fatigued.”
On the defensive end of the court, IU allowed Ohio State to get open look after open look and got shredded in the paint. The Buckeyes outscored the Hoosiers in the paint by 13 points with Ohio State establishing itself early and often in the post.
With both sophomore forward De’Ron Davis and senior forward Collin Hartman out due to injuries, IU was left undermanned down low.
“We’re getting paralyzed in terms of the sheer size of certain guys,” Miller said
Going up against size, IU has gotten dominated in the paint the past two games. IU’s three-point shooting defense improved, but against Purdue and Ohio State, the paint has killed the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers’ offense was a tick better to start the second half, but it once again couldn’t slow down the Buckeyes’ attack enough to close the gap.
IU’s offense struggled to gain momentum and make baskets consistently. The Hoosiers shot 36-percent from the floor and missed 10 layups. Ohio State’s size greatly affected IU’s offense.
“Anything in the paint was very hard tonight,” Miller said. “The drives in the crowded floor made things very difficult. I also think their length in and around the basket and their size bothers teams.”
The Buckeyes just didn’t allow IU to get any run going and its play was unsteady and focused on both offense and defense. Amid a stretch of three games against the challengers for the Big Ten Championship, IU couldn’t find its footing.
Departing Value City Arena on a three-game losing streak, Miller said he wants to continue to develop this rivalry with Ohio State, but said he hopes his team would play better in future games against the Buckeyes.
“We’re trying to grow and build,” Miller said. “As we grow and build, we’re trying to get Indiana back to a place where it means something when we come into town.”
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