4 storylines for IU’s game vs. Ohio State

1. Defending the 3
Timely 3-pointers spurred Iowa to its win in Bloomington on Thursday. Over the past five games, IU opponents are averaging 8.8 3-pointers per contest. Rutgers, which went 5-for-12, is the only opponent that hasn’t hit at least nine against the Hoosiers in that span. Ohio State ranks fifth in Big Ten play with a 35.6 percent mark from beyond the arc. In last weekend’s win over the Scarlet Knights, the Buckeyes made 13 of 28. In Thursday’s victory over Penn State, they made seven of 14. In Big Ten play, 35.1 percent of Ohio State’s total points are coming from 3-pointers — the second-highest perimeter point distribution in the conference. For an IU team that has been susceptible to yielding good looks from around the arc, the Hoosiers have to do a better job than they did against Iowa.

2. Give and take
Turnovers are, perhaps, Ohio State’s biggest weakness. The Buckeyes have been plain sloppy with the basketball this season, especially in conference games. Ohio State ranks last in the Big Ten in turnovers per game (14.1) and turnover percentage (20.9). Yet, on the other end of the floor, Ohio State has fared well with forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes’ Big Ten opponents are committing errors on 19.3 percent of their possessions, the third-highest mark in the league. Ohio State’s steal percentage of 9.9 percent ranks fifth in the conference.

3. Working on Wesson
Kaleb Wesson is Ohio State’s top offensive weapon, a 6-foot-9 sophomore averaging 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds this season. But at times, the challenge for Wesson has been staying on the floor. He’s averaging 6.6 fouls called per 40 minutes in conference play, which could lead IU to establish Juwan Morgan and/or De’Ron Davis early in the contest. Wesson averaged 13 points and five rebounds in two games vs. IU last season.

4. Which Smith shows up?
Archie Miller called Smith’s effort against Michigan State the best and most complete performance of his young career. But the sophomore forward followed up with a dud against Iowa, struggling on both ends of the floor. Smith is one of the many Hoosiers having a hard time achieving a level of consistency this season, with Thursday just the latest example. He’s a capable player with visible upside, but given his minutes and usage, Smith’s growing pains seem to be felt more than anyone else’s. His ability to string together positive performances will be one of the keys to the final month.