We had to wait until the final week of the season but the Buckeyes finally have a signature road win.
Ohio State went into Assembly Hall in Bloomington and pushed Indiana around 67-58. The win gives, Thad Matta’s Buckeyes, a signature road win. We have been waiting for that since a November evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Buckeyes did everything but close the deal against the Blue Devils.
All the things that you felt would have to happen for the Buckeyes to win, happened.
Aaron Craft played 37 minutes, scored 15 points, ‘gaffled’ IU with 4 steals and only turned the ball over twice against an aggressive Hoosier defense.
Deshaun Thomas provided the winning margin when he drilled a three ball to put OSU up 59-50 with 4:24 remaining. DT goes 3/4 from the free throw line, in the last 2:30 in the process of leading the Buckeyes with 18 points.
The Bench was solid, Shannon Scott chipped in 8 points and 4 steals. Evan Ravenel scored 8 points and squeezed 6 rebounds. Ravenel took two charges at key points of the game that stopped the Hoosiers from speeding the tempo.
Victor Oladipo was shut down. The Ohio State defense didn’t let IU’s best player get a shot off in the first half. He only shot it 6 times for the game and only scored 7 points. He was not a factor in the outcome. Senior night for IU was a beautiful thing, if you were watching the game in Columbus.
This is the most complete game that OSU has played all year plain and simple. Going into Bloomington and knocking off a very good Indiana team, shows a level of toughness we haven’t seen in the Buckeyes this year. Keeping calm in a place that was absolutely insane, shows a level of poise we haven’t seen from the 2013 Buckeyes. The fact that they lost 3 of 4 to close January and open February seems pretty distant.
If you aren’t a happy Buckeye, this night, you just aren’t going to be happy.
The game with Illinois this weekend takes on more meaning because an Ohio State win, paired with an Indiana loss at *ichigan gives the Bucks a share of the Big 10 regular season title. There weren’t a whole lot of people(myself included) that would’ve predicted that when the season started. I will be cheering against Indiana this weekend because I would cheer for Al-Qaeda before I would cheer for *ichigan.
This one has to be a confidence boost for the scarlet and gray. Assembly Hall was rocking, they were celebrating an outright Big 10 championship and Ohio State put the clamps on it. If you can close out the regular season with a win at home against Illinois, you’re going into the Big 10 tournament with a lot of momentum.
There was a great lesson in quality vs. quantity tonight. Amir Williams only played 14 minutes tonight but in the second half he gave enough physicality to Cody Zeller that a couple of big shots were missed and Ohio State was able to put more pressure on the Hoosiers. Williams block with 4:40 left prevented a lay up that would have made it a one possession game and set the stage for the run that knocked the wind out of the Hoosiers.
I must admit that I am somewhat shocked at how ‘normal’ Indiana looks when Oladipo is off. A lot of things worked against him, he was in foul trouble and never got a rhythm. The scariest moment of the game may have been in the opening moments of the second half when he hit a three ball. You could almost feel the Buckeye nation say a collective “Uh-oh”.
The Buckeyes also showed a little ‘spurt-ability’. This is a one possession game until Aaron Craft puts the Buckeyes up 54-50 with 5:35 left. The Buckeyes step on the gas and put up a 7-0 run that put it out of reach for the home team.
I still think that this version of the Buckeyes is a sweet 16 team at best. However, if they can go into a hostile environment and play defense like they did tonight, anything is possible.
Life is good. The Ohio State Buckeyes have a signature win at Indiana. They call it March madness because crazy things happen. We will have to wait and see what happens in the Big 10 Tournament next week. The way this group of Buckeyes plays defense, maybe March will live up to its’ name.