There have been plenty of songs written about duos. Whether one is partial to “It Takes Two” or even “Two of Us” by The Beatles, tag teams of two tend to have a big impact.
So Ohio State’s high-scoring guard combination of freshman Kelsey Mitchell (25.7 points per game) and junior Ameryst Alston (21.5 points per game) will be the focus when the IU women’s basketball team (11-3) hosts the Buckeyes (10-5) on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Assembly Hall.
Such a high scoring opponent may provide some extra motivation for an IU team that gave up 86 points in a blowout loss to Purdue on Sunday.
“We looked like we were a little bit gassed,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “I thought we looked tired.”
Mitchell, coming off a 33-point outing against Rutgers last week, was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday for the third time this season. She is second in the nation in scoring, but that is not all she can do for this team. Her 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals a game both pace the team in their respective categories.
She is the focal point of an offense that puts up 80.2 points a night and IU is no slouch themselves with 79.7 points per game. It is the type of scoring that makes the difference, though.
Purdue had much of their success against the Hoosiers in the paint with a forward like Whitney Bays. Ohio State, on the other hand, uses its guards as the stars, but perimeter defense has been less of an issue for the Hoosiers.
Freshman guard Tyra Buss and sophomore guard Taylor Agler have guarded opponents’ top backcourt scorers this season. Agler usually covers the best wing and Buss will guard better scoring point guards. One example is Haley Seibert of IPFW, who Buss held to 11 points although she entered the game averaging 18.6 a game.
The perimeter defense holds opponents to 23.6 percent from deep against IU. They also force 18 turnovers a game on average. Mitchell will be the best scorer they have faced. She alone shoots 36 percent from three-point range, as over a third of her shots come from behind the line.
The inside is where troubles tend to arise for IU, though. Moren was hard on freshman forward Amanda Cahill on her overall performance against Purdue.
The Buckeyes play a similar style as IU in terms of playing through the guards, but do not discount Ohio State's freshman forward Alexa Hart. She will be trying to put some pressure on an undersized IU team. Hart stands at 6-foot-3.
Moren consistently talks about how the Hoosiers will be undersized throughout the Big Ten season.
“We can’t make that the reason for why we come up short,” Moren said.
While IU lost their last home game in a 66-51 loss to Rutgers on Dec. 28, Ohio State has yet to win a road game, as they are currently 0-2 on opposing courts.
Not much seemed to go well for the Hoosiers in the loss to Purdue. Thursday will be an opportunity to bounce back as a team.
“We got to stay encouraged and not get discouraged,” Moren said. “This is a long season.”