IU rebounds with first road win over Top 10 team since 2000

WHAT HAPPENED: No. 1 Indiana responded to its late meltdown in a loss to Illinois with a convincing 81-68 win over No. 10 Ohio State in front of 18,809 at Value City Arena in Columbus.

The Hoosiers took the lead with 7:18 to go in the first half and never trailed again. They were up 41-33 at the break and after allowing the Buckeyes to cut the deficit to 43-39, they answered with a 10-2 run to go up 53-41. The Buckeyes fought back to cut the deficit to 72-64 with 1:18 to go and then 76-68 with 25 seconds left, but the Hoosiers hit five free throws in the last 19 seconds to salt away the victory.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: The Hoosiers got 70 of their 81 points from three sources. Junior guard Victor Oladipo scored a career-high 26 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 9-for-10 shooting at the free throw line. He hit a 3-pointer and also recorded eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The Hoosiers made it a point to establish sophomore center Cody Zeller early and often, and he scored in a variety of ways, hitting turnaround jumpers and hooks and layups, but also stepping out to hit from around 15 feet. He finished with 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 shooting from the free throw line. He also had eight rebounds and a block and simply dominated his matchup with Ohio State center Amir Williams.

Christian Watford was strong inside and out, hitting four critical 3-pointers as answers for Ohio State runs and also scoring in the post. He finished with 20 points in six rebounds in what was one of his strongest outings.

Senior guard Jordan Hulls had a brutal shooting night, making just two of nine field goal attempts and one of seven 3-pointers, but he also had four assists against one turnover. Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell scored just one point and attempted just one field goal, but he held his own in his matchup with Aaron Craft. He only turned the ball over once and had three assists. Craft scored 16 points on him and had three assists and also had three turnovers.

Ohio State junior forward Deshaun Thomas was difficult to guard as expected for the Hoosiers, and he finished with 26 points and seven rebounds while reserve forward LaQuinton Ross posted 11. Other than those three, none of the Buckeyes scored more than six points.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Hoosiers took to heart all of their failures late in the loss at Illinois and made sure not to let those happen again Sunday. They stuck to the defensive game plan, and they very much stuck to the offensive game plan, which was getting the ball in the post.

Indiana was good but not great from beyond the arc on Sunday, hitting seven of 18 3-pointers, but they were 3-for-13 outside of Watford. Especially once Hulls realized it wasn’t his day from outside, the Hoosiers made a point to get the ball in either Zeller or Watford’s hands or other wise in the paint on almost every possession. That didn’t always lead to field goals and the Hoosiers actually scored the exact same number of points in the paint (28) as they did against Illinois, but they drew more fouls and spent more time at the line. The Hoosiers shot 22-for-28 for the field while Ohio State was 15-for-20. That was critical as Indiana finished with just one more field goal than Ohio State.

On defense, the Hoosiers made sure Thomas had to work for his points and they did a much better job of defending the 3 than they did against Illinois, as the Buckeyes finished 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. Also importantly, Indiana didn’t turn the ball over much, giving it away just 10 times. The Buckeyes scored 11 points off turnovers, but that was nowhere near the 28 Illinois scored off 14 turnovers on Thursday.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Simply rebounding from the loss at Illinois was enough to make this a huge win for Indiana, because the Hoosiers simply could not afford to let one loss turn into two, but winning in Columbus is such a significant feat for Indiana on its own merit.

Historically, it’s a big feat. The Hoosiers hadn’t won a true road game over a ranked opponent since beating Iowa in 2002 and hadn’t beaten a top 10 team on the road since beating Notre Dame in 2000. They hadn’t won in Columbus at all since 2008.

But more importantly, these are the sort of games Indiana has to win to win a Big Ten title. The home loss to Wisconsin and the road loss at Illinois cost them a significant amount of margin for error, so holding serve at home and only winning the road games in which they are heavily favored isn’t good enough. They still have Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan to play on the road, and this win should give them the experience and confidence necessary to win those sorts of games. Indiana remains at the top of the Big Ten with this win, and thanks to tumult in the rest of college basketball, the victory should also keep the Hoosiers in the top five.


Tom Crean

“From the very beginning after we lost to Illinois, the biggest thing to our team was that if we were going to spend a lot of time worrying about bouncing back, then we were going to waste a lot of energy in trying to get better. I’m proud of the way these guys responded from a very tough loss the other night, one that they know that we squandered opportunities inside of the game. All we’ve been focused on the last few days is making sure that we got better.”

“We had to be sharper. We had to have better edge. We had to take care of the ball. We’re coming off two games when our opponents had scored a total of 48 points off of our turnovers the last two games, which is unacceptable. It’s one thing to be unacceptable to a coach. It’s a whole other thing when it’s unacceptable and owned by the team. I think they’ve done that.”

“The game plan was followed, and it wasn’t just a coaches game plan, it was the players that really, really addressed everything throughout the game and kept the confidence getting higher and higher in an incredibly tough environment against an excellent team.”

“When there could’ve been opportunities for us to settle for jumpers, we didn’t, and when they got big buckets, we came down and we matched it. I think that gave us tremendous confidence in the first half.”

“We did the best job all Big Ten of feeding the post today. Statistically, the stuff that we keep. And it wasn’t just feeding the post, it was getting the ball in the lane and getting the ball inside-out. There were very few instances where we took quick jumpers before the ball touched the paint, whether off the dribble or off the pass.”

Victor Oladipo

On what IU saw from watching the Illinois game

“How we looked so immature. How we handled that last five minutes of the game. We’re too old for that. Even (freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell), Yogi’s too old for that. He’s played enough games now that he’s too old for that … We gotta make sure that never happens again.”

On getting the ball in the post

We just threw it in there. That’s what we changed. We just threw it in there. Sometimes it’s kinda hard because they kinda push Cody off where he wants to be or we can’t get it in because our man keeps backing up and we’re second-guessing ourselves. Today we had a mindset that we’re gonna throw it in there no matter what.  If we do that, it opens the floor up so much.”

Christian Watford

“We just stayed locked in. We never stopped playing. That was the main thing. We felt like we waited for the time to run out in the Illinois game instead of just playing all the way through. Once we did that, we were in pretty good shape.”

Cody Zeller

“Both of us just wanted to be aggressive. A lot of good things happen. Even if we don’t score or attract a lot of attention, we kick it out for 3’s or drives, so that kind of gets our offense flowing. Both of us wanted to be aggressive.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Cody Zeller

AUDIO: Christian Watford

AUDIO: Victor Oladipo


  1. Well said, it was a smart win and they showed some serious maturity. It showed they can learn from mistakes and not be overwhelmed by them, not overplay or overcompensate, just remain calm and carry on. They did not let OSU dictate the game, did not let early foul calls frustrate them, did not panic when the late OSU runs came. So true about Ferrell and for a freshman, great poise!

    Not perfect play and there were things to learn from this game, such as how to beat full court press across mid-court, but they will have a pretty good set of tools and experiences to rely on and boost their confidence in March.

    Need to continue to work on getting the ball to Cody because other teams could make it a bit more challenging to complete those passes.

  2. After the last purdue game I bet that Hammons wouldn’t score 12 in the rematch. I’m still on that. Z is going to have a murderous week this week. And Yogi is going to bounce back and score this week too. He didn’t force a thing today, and that is great maturity for a kid who’s been shooting it so well recently.

    We have two games this week which should be over in 10 min so that we can get Jeremy, Remy, Perea and Elston’s confidence back.

  3. the team was not whelmed in a hostile environment. solid win. watford may have played his best game as a hoosier. he’s actually starting to look comfortable inside and his recently improved play inside should bode well for the duration. no longer does he look like he’s just throwing it in the direction of the rim.

    zeller’s 3 turnaround jumpers are really going to help open the floor for him offensively. many of us have been waiting a long time to see that.

    can we all agrre to stop saying how deep this team is. we have a 6 player rotation. that’s it. that’s enough if no one gets hurt.

  4. Agreed that this team doesn’t have the solid 9- or 10-player rotation I thought we would, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have depth. Remy and Hollowell have played quality minutes in tight games recently, and Elston, Mo, and Parea have played in spurts. Many have posted on here that we thought Crean should’ve let the reserves stay in at times when they’re playing effectively insteading of subbing them back out seemingly at random.

    We had three guys combine to score more than the OSU team, but that’s not the norm. And we can’t expect to have as little foul trouble– especially on the road– as we had today. It’s still important that we not fall into the trap of limiting our bench play and sticking to a 6-player rotation. We may need all of those guys as some point. (Just ask ND and L’Ville.)

  5. The thing that I liked was that they shut down our guards and the big 3 rose to the occasion. I am thinking that this is the first game this year that 3 different players scored over 20 points in a game. They just looked confident, not cocky. I love this team-its good to be a hoosier fan. Go Hoosiers

  6. It will be very interesting to see Thad’s defensive strategy when we play them again. They’ll have to double on Cody Great win Hoosiers!

  7. Read quite e few columnists this morning who are debating once again who should be #1 this week. Apparently Duke’s lackluster one-point win over a sub .500, last place team in a so so conference didn’t impress the pundits much. They may not be the runaway choice for a return to #1 that many people thought.

    I know, I know. Rankings don’t mean much until the end of the year, but it’s always fun to speculate. Early returns look like it might be a close three-way race for the top spot with Duke, Miami, or possibly even Indiana holding on for another week. My guess is we land at #3, but will retain some first place votes and there will be very few points separating the top three.

  8. Crazy weekend. Big time win by IU, Illinois has a follow-up W. Duke by 1. Arizona, Kansis, Michigan, Minnesota wounded. Notre Dame 5 OT. ESPN Game Day @ IU, Butler and ND were all good games.

    Guess the last one standing gets #1.

  9. Punjab- please please please spell Perea correctly. He’s not a pariah, man. Few things are more annoying than when a fan base consistently mispronounces/spells their own player’s/coach’s name.

    There are still Seahawks and Packers fans who say Mike “Holgrem” about their former coach. Nasty.

  10. Great game! Great coaching! And great play by our team! They stayed focused for 40 minutes. And there was no showboating. It was truly a great recovery from their poor play against Illinois. Go Hoosiers! Now they need to retain that consistency of play as they move towards the latter part of their schedule which is far tougher than the first part.

  11. My first couple years at IU were the undefeated teams so, even though I’d been a huge fan since I was a kid, my standards on wins and losses kinda got skewed. I don’t like any loss. If you want to win the conference you have to win more games than everyone else. It’s that simple.

    That being said…

    It’s easy to forget that, as big as they are, our Hoosiers are still pretty much kids in the worldly view. While it may sound cliche’ you DO learn more from your failures than your successes. THOSE mistakes just stick in your craw and you NEVER want to have that feeling again. You’ll work your butt off to see that it doesn’t happen again. Think we’ll see a guy cut unmolested down the lane for the inbounds pass and a layup at the end of a game again? Not a chance in He!!. A mistake in the course of a victory might elicit little more than a “whoops”. We are FAR better off losing to a team that is not going to threaten us for the title and come back to beat all the contenders, which the guys have done with an amazing level of consistently.

    Watching this game it was pretty darned clear that the guys learned a lot and really took it to heart.

    They say you need to win the games you are supposed to win and steal a few more along the way. Maybe so. I can live with losing in an upset or two and beating all the contenders. If the Hoosiers can keep putting up Ws against Michigan, Michigan State, and OSU they won’t end up on the short end of enough upsets to matter and those guys will (and have) suffered upsets of their own.

    No one wants to plan a loss but if one ever served a purpose, it was the Illinois game.

  12. I thought that was the Butler game.

    Oh, no, it actually was the Wisconsin game.

    Or maybe whatever loss comes next.

    Bottom line: get the ball to Cody! (Attaboy Crean.)

    Not that Cody is a special player if you ask Chept…

  13. The concept you seem to fail to grasp is that there can be more than one lesson in life. Never stop learning.

    Next time you fail, try to learn from it. Seriously. I’m betting you’d really like to improve your life.

    Carpe diem.

  14. Suspiciously absent from the blogs these last couple of days are Debbie and the other trolls. Where are they now? Come on trolls, where’s you your petty, small minded and idiotic comments about Tom Crean or CWat or the team in general? Cat got your tongue? Nothing to say all of a sudden? Hard to find something negative to write, so you’ll just not write anything? True trolls to the end.

  15. Chet, not to contradict you, because I absolutely agree you learn more from your failures, and I’m sorta glad they lost in that fashion against UI because it brought to light a sore spot I had brought up the week prior – underneath oob defense. However, they did give up an unobstructed open path to the rim once again in the OSU game… Luckily for us Sam Thompson lost the ball on the high flying alley-oop and we got a transition lay-up.

    It is always shocking to me how frequently I can get my team lay-ups off the inbounds pass underneath when I’m the oob guy. And I can’t remember the last time I gave up a lay-up when I was guarding the inbounds passer. It’s really not very difficult, and my nickname given to me by my college coach was T-Rex because (to say it politely) I don’t have long arms (cue the photoshoppers). You just have to take the angle away between the inbounder and the basket and then have the other defenders postion themselves between their man and the basket and switch if necessary. How we continually fail to execute that is mind boggling.

  16. Podunker, very well said!!!! I’m surprised on the lack of insight they have on themselves to not realize just how idiotic they make themselves appear. Anyway, 30 hours till game time!!!

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