CHICAGO — In a game where the Hoosiers had an opportunity to play their way into the NCAA Tournament, it took them 33 minutes to show any sense of urgency.
With 7:30 left in the game, IU found itself down by 20 to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. Then, junior guard Devonte Green answered with a 3-pointer, which sparked a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to just seven with 4:20 to go.
Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson was then called for a charge, and the Hoosier fans in attendance rose up in excitement as the Hoosiers had an opportunity to get within five points or less before the under-four timeout.
The momentum had completely shifted, the comeback was nearing completion and then Green threw an errant pass that resulted in a crowd-silencing 3-pointer from OSU senior guard C.J. Jackson to put the lead back up to 10.
That turnover-following-momentum scenario was a recurring theme for IU in its 79-75 loss to Ohio State.
“We just couldn’t hang on to the ball,” junior forward De’Ron Davis said. “The ball was all over the place for us.”
In the first half, IU had 10 turnovers that resulted in 17 Ohio State points. It was the first time since Feb. 26 that IU had 10 or more turnovers in an entire game.
“Our turnovers in the first half really broke us down in terms of giving them 17 points off turnovers,” IU Coach Archie Miller said. “We had 10 in the first half, and that was kind of a little bit of a deal-breaker for us at halftime.”
The second half saw a smaller number in seven turnovers, but all were in crucial moments such as Green’s aforementioned pass, or graduate transfer forward Evan Fitzner’s charge with 18 seconds left when the team was trailing by five.
Despite Green’s four turnovers, it was his shooting that kept IU in the game during the 31 minutes he played. Green scored a career-high 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the 3-point line, including some bombs from 30 or more feet to maintain the chance at victory in the closing seconds.
Despite his hot-shooting heroics, it came down to the turnovers, the loose balls and the lack of energy at the start for IU to stay alive in the Big Ten Tournament and ultimately keep control of its postseason destiny.
“If we played the whole game like we played the last seven minutes, it’s a whole different ball game,” Davis said.
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