Ohio State had a chance to finish the regular season on a high note.
Instead, the Buckeyes let Indiana race out to a huge lead in the first half and never recovered. Although Ohio State fought back in the second half, Indiana pulled away for a 96-92 win Saturday at Value City Arena in Columbus.
An at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament had long escaped the Buckeyes, but they still had something to play for. A win against the Hoosiers would have given them their first three-game winning streak in Big Ten play this season. More importantly, it would have prevented them from having to play on the opening day of the Big Ten Tournament.
That’s all out the window now, and the Buckeyes have quite a hill to climb to avoid missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row. Indiana, on the other hand, avoided having to play on the first day of the conference tourney.
The loss dropped Ohio State to 17-14, 7-11 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers improved to 17-14, 7-11.
Why it happened
Indiana jumped out to an incredibly fast start, torching the Buckeyes over the first 10 minutes. In the first half, the Hoosiers led by as many as 18 points and ended up hanging 54 points on Ohio State in the first half.
Things began to change after halftime. The Buckeyes went on a huge comeback and briefly took the lead at 62-61. However, a cold stretch followed and Indiana quickly stretched the lead back to double digits. Ohio State never again seriously challenged.
What it means for Ohio State basketball
It’s a huge lost opportunity for the Buckeyes, who could have entered the postseason on a three-game winning streak. The loss also means Ohio State will have to endure the humiliation of playing on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament, a designation reserved for the bottom four teams in the 14-team league. The Buckeyes will have to win five straight to win the tournament. The odds of that happening, as evidenced by the entirety of conference play, are quite slim.
The loss also made for a disappointing Senior Day for forward Marc Loving, the lone senior on Ohio State’s roster.
Trevor Thompson did a great job down low for Ohio State. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. However, he picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half and Indiana took advantage of his absence.
The entire team didn’t have it together coming out of the gate. As a result, the Buckeyes fell into a deficit that they couldn’t quite overcome. It was a team-wide defensive lapse over the first 20 minutes, and the Buckeyes paid the price.
What’s next for Ohio State basketball
The Buckeyes will open play in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday against an opponent yet to be determined.
FINAL: Indiana 96, Ohio State 92 pic.twitter.com/IJz2tb8p2i
— Ryan Ginn (@rmginn) March 4, 2017