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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

FINAL: No. 14 Ohio State 67, No. 2 IU 58

In a Senior Night letdown, IU dropped its final home game of the season to Ohio State, 67-58 on cold shooting and offensive inefficiency.

Tipoff was delayed 10 minutes to 9:10 p.m. due to wintery weather.

Early misses plagued IU, the team seemingly jittery from the energy of the packed Assembly Hall. Meanwhile, crisp passing staked Ohio State to an early lead.

Seeking to prevent another outburst like his 26 points in the teams' first meeting, IU employed a number of different defenders on OSU's Deshaun Thomas.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo was assigned to Thomas first, but sustained a second foul less than halfway through the period. Even before that, though, senior forward Christian Watford and sophomore forward Cody Zeller also took turns guarding the Fort Wayne native.

Entering the game, his last at home, for the first time shortly after Oladipo was benched, senior forward Derek Elston quickly found himself trying to contain Thomas as well.

A Hulls jumper gave a IU brief lead, but the resulting free throws from Oladipo's second foul tied the game at 15. IU quickly regained the lead, but could not distance itself by more than a single possession.

Less than five minutes later, Zeller, still IU's leading scorer at the half with eight points sustained his own second foul. IU would play the rest of the half without either player.

Watford hit a 3-pointer to give IU a four-point edge, its largest of the half, but the IU offense went as cold at the snowy conditions after that, missing its final four shots of the half and a pair of free throws.

Ohio State closed with a 7-0 run to lead 28-25 at halftime, a diving save of the ball by Hulls and IU Coach Tom Crean pumping up the crowd falling short of producing offense for the Hoosiers.

Both Oladipo and Zeller returned to start the second half and quickly made their presence known. Oladipo knotted the game with a 3-pointer on IU's first possession.

Seconds later, he muscled through traffic for a defensive board that would be come a Watford jump shot that put IU up.

Off of 6-of-6 shooting to start the half, IU boosted the lead as high as five points before the Buckeyes began pounding the ball into the post, as Crean had predicted they would, for a series of layups that gave them the lead once again at 44-43.

In IU's victory against OSU in Columbus, Ohio earlier in the season, Oladipo, Watford and Zeller each broke the 20-point mark and shouldered the vast majority of the scoring load.

The early moments of Tuesday's second half were reminiscent of that win. The trio combined for the first 18 IU points of the period.

However, the shear volume of shots by Ohio State kept the visitors ahead as they built their own five-point lead.

IU closed within two points at 52-50 after a pair of Zeller free throws before the Buckeye’s unleashed a 9-0 run, this one to give them the largest lead of the game by either team. It was not a matter of IU missing shots, but rather failing to find scoring opportunities to begin with, allowing OSU to snag offensive rebounds and fumbling the ball out of bounds once the Hoosiers did have the ball.

When Oladipo coughed up the ball near the perimeter, leading to a breakaway OSU dunk that made it 61-50, IU’s fate seemed sealed.

The seniors had one final charge in them. A Watford long ball stopped the bleeding, while Hulls cut through the monotony of fouls and free throws with his own 3-pointer that brought IU back within six.

With 40.5 second left, IU suddenly had a chance, especially once the Buckeyes turned the ball over out of bounds under IU's hoop. IU failed to score on the inbound, though, and in fact would never score again.

OSU ran down the clock with a keep-away passing exercise and when IU finally got the ball back, a last-ditch shot rattled in and out of the basket.

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