Bassett's 23 Points Lead Hoosiers Past Ohio State, 72-69
Feb. 26, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Dan Dakich thinks Indiana basketball should be about the players. One day soon, it might be again.
The Hoosiers' high-profile coaching change again overshadowed basketball Tuesday night, and Indiana fans showered Dakich with a victory stroll after No. 12 Indiana beat Ohio State 72-69 -- even though Dakich didn't think he deserved it.
"This isn't about my stamp or anything like that," he said afterward. "This is about these players and what they had in front of them before last Friday."
At stake for the Hoosiers (24-4, 13-2 Big Ten) is their first possible outright Big Ten title since 1993 and a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
But after 410 career games as an assistant coach on the Indiana bench for Kelvin Sampson and Bob Knight, Dakich found himself in new territory Tuesday night. He was greeted with a standing ovation when he walked onto the floor and heard loud cheers when public address announcer Chuck Crabb called his name during pregame introductions.
Armon Bassett scored 23 points, hitting four 3-pointers to lead Indiana. Eric Gordon, the Big Ten's top scorer, finished with 17 points and six rebounds despite shooting just 4-of-16. D.J. White added 16 points and eight rebounds despite fighting cramps and Indiana won its fourth straight, all coming since the university released the NCAA report on Feb. 13.
After enduring the circus-like environment of the past two weeks, the Hoosiers just wanted to play basketball.
"We love Coach Sampson and we wish he was out there with us," Bassett said. "But we're right up there at the top of the Big Ten and we can't do nothing but get used to it."
The Buckeyes made that very clear in Tuesday night's physical slugfest.
Kosta Koufos scored 21 points, Evan Turner had 13 and Jamar Butler and Othello Hunter each had 12, not quite enough to pull the upset. Ohio State (17-11, 8-7) has now lost three straight and five of seven but fought back from a dismal opening to nearly pull the upset.
"Indiana made the plays tonight, please don't take anything away from them," Matta said. "They have a great basketball team and they got the tip-ins and hit the 3 in he corner. I think that was the big difference there."
Initially, it didn't look like it would be that close.
Indiana broke out to a 10-3 lead behind a strong early rebounding effort and still led 30-21 at halftime when the Buckeyes shot just 31 percent.
In the second half, Koufos gave the Buckeyes hope. He opened the second half by scoring the Buckeyes' first seven points and then hit another basket with 15:13 left to get Ohio State within 34-32.
The Hoosiers answered with five straight points to make it 39-32 and then fended off Ohio State's charge down the stretch by making 10-of-12 free throws to finally give Dakich his first win in Bloomington.
"I'm just happy we won," Dakich said as he described the scene walking into the locker room. "I'm aware Indiana fans love, live and die with Indiana basketball. I'm also aware Indiana fans are hurting about that. So I did think about that walking off."
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