COLUMBUS, Ohio — IU knew it was coming. The Hoosiers prepared for it. They talked about it. They practiced for it.
To beat Ohio State, IU Coach Tom Crean said his team would need to make D’Angelo Russell and Shannon Scott uncomfortable. IU couldn’t allow them to find a rhythm if it wanted to beat the ?Buckeyes.
IU couldn’t do it.
Ohio State’s backcourt combined for 32 points, 13 assists and six rebounds to lead the Buckeyes to an 82-70 win over the Hoosiers on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
“The bottom line today is D’Angelo Russell and Shannon Scott played the way we couldn’t let them play,” Crean said. “We never took them out of what they wanted to do. They never got ?uncomfortable, and therefore everybody else on the team was the beneficiary.”
Despite another offensive showcase, IU was reminded of what could happen if their defensive shortcomings were too great to be masked by their high-octane offense.
Apart from scoring, Russell and Scott created opportunities for their teammates to burn IU (15-5, 5-2). Russell finished with 22 points but also dished out 10 ?assists. Those numbers would have been higher had he not been limited slightly with leg cramps.
As a team, Ohio State (16-5, 5-3) shot 62 percent from the field. Forward Jae’Sean Tate was the most efficient player from the floor, converting on 9-of-10 shots and scoring 20 points.
But even Tate said his scoring was not as much from his own doing as it was Russell and Scott’s.
“They did a great job of distributing the ball,” junior guard Yogi Ferrell said.
But Russell wasn’t just passing, he was scoring ?himself.
He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Ohio State a 62-50 lead with 8:45 left in the second half.
He admitted he wasn’t even looking for the shots. He felt himself starting to cramp. But when he saw a gap, he took advantage.
“I guess they forgot about me,” Russell said.
The made buckets were just another blow for IU.
Their offense, led by a game-high 26 points from Ferrell, kept the Buckeyes from running away with the game, but their inability to get defensive stops made it impossible to come back within striking distance.
Added to that, IU suffered from unforced errors of its own. The Hoosiers had 15 turnovers leading to 26 Ohio State points.
Ferrell and sophomore forward Collin Hartman blamed communication. They both said the teams’ cuts weren’t quick or sharp enough, echoing what they said following a 20-point loss to Michigan State earlier this month.
The combination of poor defense and turnovers meant that every time IU made a run, it was almost immediately answered by Ohio State.
The Hoosiers played relatively consistent on the offensive end, but poor defense sealed the loss.
That’s ultimately why IU’s four-game winning streak was snapped and why a share of the Big Ten lead slipped away.
“We had too many freshman moments today,” ?Crean said.