In their best performance of the season, Ohio State knocked off the #2 Indiana Hoosiers on their Senior Night in Assembly Hall. A truly amazing effort by the Buckeyes, Indiana were out hustled, out “toughed”, and thoroughly out played by the rowdy Buckeye bunch.
On a night that could have very well been decided by the play of Ohio State’s bigs, Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott assumed the roles of the big tough guys. Scott and Craft forced the Hoosiers into turnovers all night long, each grabbing 4 steals from the Hoosiers. It wasn’t so much that Indiana was sloppy that caused their turnovers, Craft and Scott were simply that good. They both hawked the ball from all angles, not allowing the ball to get inside all that often.
Craft’s offensive game also propelled the Buckeyes to a win. Scoring 15 points on 7-10 shooting, Craft’s uncharacteristically stellar shooting night wowed Buckeye fans all night. He was making shots left and right, even hitting jumpers above the box at one point. While Shannon Scott wasn’t necessarily stellar on the offensive side of the ball, he did make his presence felt when it was needed.
Overall, the Buckeyes were incredible on both sides of the ball. Ohio State certainly was shooting the ball well and finished with a solid 45.8% percentage from the floor. The lack of 3-point shots ended up helping Ohio State. Whether it was the gameplan or just the way things worked out, Ohio State forced themselves to stay inside the 3-point arc and therefore were able to get better shots. What’s even more amazing, the Buckeyes were able to play a great offensive game without DeShaun Thomas playing his normal dominant role. Of course, Thomas got his shots up and ended up with 18 points, but his slow start forced other Buckeyes to step up their games.
The offense was certainly good, but that wasn’t even close to the best part of the Ohio State outing on Tuesday night. Ohio State came out incredibly tough and were simply stronger than their opponents from the Hoosier state. The lack of a post presence for Ohio State is no secret, but the Buckeyes were still able to dominate the glass. For a majority of the game, Hoosier star Cody Zeller only had a single rebound while DeShaun Thomas had 8 of his own. The Buckeyes crashed the boards with a tremendous intensity, without which Ohio State may not have come out victorious. The final rebounding numbers went as follows: Ohio State 34 total rebounds, Indiana 28 total rebounds, Ohio State 9 offensive rebounds, Indiana 7 offensive rebounds.
Ohio State continues to peak at the right time. With an Indiana loss to Michigan on their Senior Day in Ann Arbor, and a win against Illinois in Columbus, Ohio State will get a share of the Big Ten title. Can you imagine? In the midst of a year such as this one, in a conference as tough as the Big Ten, Ohio State can still be a part of the Big Ten Title. There are times where this team seemed as if it was bound for a first round loss, but the Ohio State team we’ve seen since the embarrassment in Madison seems to be without a ceiling. The sky is the limit.
All that Ohio State can focus on right now is Illinois. The Illini dominated Ohio State in Champaign, and they may be no pushover on Sunday. Sure, both teams are in very different positions than they were at that point, but the players are still the same and there are plenty of possibilities. If Ohio State shows up and lays an egg, this win has much less meaning than it would have otherwise. As for Michigan’s battle with Indiana, it’s a win win for Ohio State. With a win, Michigan clinches a share of the Big Ten for Ohio State, and with a loss Michigan’s seniors go out on a bad note. Either way, Ohio State should be reasonably pleased. Of course, I’m sure we would all rather see (in the rarest of circumstances) the Maize and Blue win on Sunday afternoon.
Buckeye Nation can enjoy for right now however. Aaron Craft is finally playing like the Aaron Craft we’ve fallen in love with. Shannon Scott is the perfect Robin to Aaron’s Batman. Overall, the Buckeyes are very much hitting their stride and setting up for what could be an amazing March.