Indiana Daily Student

Alone in first place

Hoosiers gain control of Big Ten after winning defensive battle with OSU

Wednesday night, the Hoosiers played zone defense, something they almost never do. Wednesday night, IU used a trapping press to try to disrupt Ohio State, a tactic the Hoosiers almost never use. \nThe Hoosiers were playing for first place in the Big Ten last night, late in February, something it hasn't done for nearly a decade. \nBut a few things that IU did do seems to be developing into a pattern, like having a defense that can keep the Hoosiers in games. Not to mention a bench that seems to have someone come in and spark a rally to help the Hoosiers win rugged Big Ten games.\nIn those respects, Wednesday night was no different from the previous nine conference wins for IU. The No. 23 Hoosiers scratched, clawed, elbowed and fought past No. 19 Ohio State, 63-57 Wednesday night before 17,456 at Assembly Hall, leaving IU all alone on top of the Big Ten standings with three games to go for both teams.\nJeff Newton came off the bench for a team-high 16 points in 28 minutes. Jared Jeffries, Jarrad Odle and Dane Fife each had 10. Brian Brown led the Buckeyes with a game-high 23 points, but nobody else for Ohio State cracked double figures.\nThe Hoosiers (18-8, 10-3 Big Ten) are at Michigan State Sunday afternoon and the Buckeyes (18-6, 9-4) return home after a 1-3 road swing to face Purdue Saturday night. \n"We sit here today in first place," Mike Davis said afterwards. "But we have three games to go."\nEarly on it didn't look like the Hoosiers would wake up this morning in first place. IU opened the game missing 11 of its first 13 shots, including all six of its three-point attempts. Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornsby each had two open looks at three-pointers, but each shot clanged away after hitting a lot of rim.\n"We were in sync, we were getting open shots, but we just weren't hitting them," said Jeffries, who played 39 minutes on his sore right ankle.\nDavis juggled his lineup until he found what he wanted on the offensive end. Defensively, the Hoosiers continued to stymie the Buckeyes, holding them scoreless for more than four minutes in the middle of the first half.\n"Eventually we were going to hit some shots. As long as we stop them, nobody's gaining a lead," Newton said. "We just wanted to throw them out of their offense a little bit."\nThe Buckeyes shot nearly 47 percent for the game, but had 16 turnovers that led to 25 IU points. Ohio State entered the game shooting 48.7 percent from the field, good enough for eighth in the nation.\nAfter trailing 15-10 with 7:09 left before the half, the Hoosiers ripped off 13 unanswered points to grab a 23-15 lead three minutes later on a dunk by Newton. Davis said the defense early by IU gave the Hoosiers a chance to get on track offensively.\n"Defensively we played well. We weren't hitting shots and they weren't hitting shots. Tonight we played (defense) for 40 minutes," Davis said. "They came out and showed great courage defensively."\nIU held a four-point lead at halftime, but Ohio State grabbed the lead at 36-35 on a pair of free throws by Brown with 14:32 left, giving the Buckeyes their first lead since 6:34 was left in the first half.\nThe teams traded buckets before the Hoosiers found themselves down 41-40 after a three-pointer by Brown with seconds left on the shot clock and less than 10 minutes left in the game.\nAt that time, Davis made an adjustment, switching to a 2-3 zone and using a full-court press. OSU coach Jim O'Brien said the Buckeyes were able to hit a three and crack the press, but Davis was looking to just change the flow of the game.\n"I wanted to change the flow late in the game because Coach O'Brien is so good at drawing up plays that guys can score baskets," Davis said. "I figured that if we could change the rhythm of the game a little bit and what we did was force passes."\nThe Hoosiers again ran off 13 unanswered points, a run that was sparked by two three-pointers by Jeffries and one by Kyle Hornsby. A 15-footer by Newton gave IU a 53-41 lead with 4:09 left. The Buckeyes would get no closer than six the rest of the way, thanks to the Hoosiers' defense.\n"They are a very good defensive team," O'Brien said. "They just had that one stretch in the second half, that one run they made where we had a really hard time scoring."\nIn particular, guard Brent Darby struggled for the Buckeyes. While fighting through back spasms and pressure from Coverdale, Darby had just four points and four turnovers.\n"We didn't do a good job of sticking to our game," Darby said. "I just had a bad game today."\nAs big as a game as it was, both Davis and O'Brien pointed out that there is still a lot of basketball to be played. For Davis and the Hoosiers, that basketball will start Sunday and with the Hoosiers in first place in the Big Ten.\n"Our guys have stepped up," Davis said. "They want to win the Big Ten Championship"

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