No. 13/15 Indiana Beats No. 2 Ohio State, 74-70
Dec. 31, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Indiana is starting to make a habit of beating these highly ranked teams.
On Saturday, they didn't need a buzzer-beating shot to win, and they didn't even storm the court afterward.
I am extremely happy we have fans who can share in this," said IU Coach Tom Crean. "I think the people who support this program, the Hoosier Nation, really share in a kinship with the way this is going. I am proud of that."
Sophomore Victor Oladipo scored the go-ahead basket on a fast-break layup with 36 seconds left Saturday and Indiana (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) upset No. 2 Ohio State 74-70, the first time Indiana has defeated the nation's top two teams in the same season. Hoosiers Beat Both No. 1 and No. 2.
The Hoosiers are the fifth team in the past 10 seasons to beat teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP poll in the same season. Only Indiana, Kansas in 2007-08 and Louisville in 2003-04 achieved the feat in the same month.
Instead of backing down, the Hoosiers (13-1, 1-1 Big Ten) added another chapter to the program's rapid re-emergence.
The 12-0 start was the fourth in school history and the first since the 1975-76 Hoosiers wound up as the last undefeated national champions.
The win over Kentucky three weeks ago was only the second time the Hoosiers had beaten a No. 1 team at Assembly Hall.
Now, Indiana becomes the ninth team since 1996-97 to beat both a No. 1 and a No. 2 in one season, and it joins Kansas in 2007-08 and Louisville in 2003-04 as the only teams over that span to achieve the feat in the same month. Only Louisville did it during the regular season.
But Saturday's celebration paled in comparison with the storm-the-court stampede following the Kentucky upset.
Part of the explanation was that the students were still on holiday break. The other reason: It wasn't as big a surprise.
The players "just kept giving us (coaches) confidence," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "They came to every timeout, they were totally locked in and at the 7:38 mark, you could just see it in their eyes they were so locked in. They matched the Ohio State toughness and energy."
The Hoosiers were far from perfect.
They shot 45.8 percent from the field, about 5 percentage points below their season average. They got outrebounded 35-28 and missed the same number of free throws (seven) as Ohio State. Foul trouble limited freshman center Cody Zeller, the engineer of Indiana's turnaround, to only 21 minutes, and he fouled out with 2:24 to go. But Indiana was still good enough.
The Hoosiers forced 17 turnovers and, even with Zeller sitting out, somehow managed to outscore the bigger Buckeyes 38-34 in the paint.
"It came down to us not being able to get a stop," Ohio State guard Aaron Craft said. "Give them credit, they just kept coming back and coming back and knocking down big shot after big shot."
Craft led the Buckeyes (13-2, 1-1) with 16 points. Jared Sullinger had 15 points and nine rebounds, and William Buford finished with 12 points but missed a possible go-ahead 3-pointer with about 5 seconds to play.
Ohio State, which spent most of the game in foul trouble, never really looked like itself.
Sullinger, Buford and Deshaun Thomas combined to play only 29 minutes in the first half after each picked up their second fouls. Buford picked up two more in the first 3:32 of the second half, and Thomas picked up his third with 17:21 left in the game. That forced coach Thad Matta to mix-and-match his rotations in hopes of keeping a five-game winning streak alive.
"It was obviously a difficult challenge," said Matta, who won a school-record six straight over the Hoosiers before Saturday. "I thought we put ourselves in a pretty decent position."
Junior Jordan Hulls, who had 17 points, and senior Verdell Jones, who had 14 points, just wouldn't let Ohio State pull away.
When the Buckeyes rallied from a 33-32 halftime deficit to take a 44-41 lead, it looked like they might get rolling.
Instead, the Hoosiers fought back. And when Lenzelle Smith Jr. made Ohio State's first 3-pointer of the game, to give the Buckeyes a 51-47 lead with 10:39 to go, Indiana answered with four straight points to tie it. It was that kind of night.
In the final 5½ minutes, there were 10 ties or lead changes, including the three-point play from Sullinger that gave Ohio State a 68-67 lead and sent Zeller to the bench for good.
"It had the same effect as Kansas," Sullinger said. "You walk off the floor, they hang an 'L' on you and your ears are ringing because the fans are so loud."
Jones answered with a layup for the Hoosiers, and Thomas countered with a 15-footer to give Ohio State a 70-69 lead.
From that point on, it was all about defense.
The Hoosiers didn't give up another point and took advantage after forcing another Buckeye turnover. Hulls deflected the pass, Jones picked it off and tossed it to Oladipo for the layup with 36 seconds left to make it 71-70.
Indiana closed it out with a free throw from Hulls, Watford's rebound of Buford's errant shot and two more free throws from Watford.
"They gave us pumpkin heads the past few years," Jones said. "To finally to get over that hump and get the 'W,' that's huge for this team."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
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