For the first time in Indiana basketball history, the Hoosiers have knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation in the same season. What's even more impressive is they did this in a matter of three weeks to the date.
No. 13 Indiana (13-1, 1-1 Big Ten) knocked off No. 2 Ohio State (13-2, 1-1 Big Ten) 74-70 last night, and showed they are a national championship contender.
Most people thought Ohio State and Kentucky would be almost guaranteed Final Four teams, and Indiana has already knocked off both.
For most of the game it seemed Indiana was just setting up Ohio State. They were playing good enough to stay in the game, but never let Ohio State get it out of hand.
The Hoosiers did everything I said they needed to do in my article of the Top 5 keys to beat Ohio State. Cody Zeller and Christian Watford brought Ohio State's big men Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas out of the lane and worked them.
Both big men on the Buckeyes can't defend out of the box. They're way too slow, and it was never more prevalent than on Saturday.
The Hoosiers next exposed Ohio State's weak bench by getting the Buckeyes in foul trouble. Some of the calls were knicky knack, but most of Sullinger's and Thomas' fouls were legit. They're just not athletic enough to defend guys.
This kept Ohio State's big three off the court and helped Indiana stay with the Buckeyes.
The third and final thing that IU did well was control the game with the home-court advantage. When Indiana made runs, the crowd got extremely loud and Ohio State was forced to use timeouts. They used all but one timeout in the first half, and that was a huge key late in the game.
After 34.5 minutes, the Hoosiers finally showed they would take the victory. The last 5.5 minutes saw 10 ties or lead changes, but the Buckeyes being in foul trouble and only one timeout left gave Indiana great looks at the basket.
The deciding moment came when Jordan Hulls deflected a pass late in the game. Senior Verdell Jones III snatched the ball and threw it ahead to sophomore Victor Oladipo for a dunk that made the score 71-70 with 36 seconds left in the contest.
Ohio State had to use their final timeout, and turned the ball over in the lane when play resumed. Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls made 4 of 5 free throws in the end and sealed the victory for the Hoosiers.
Only six players scored for Indiana, but five of them were in double figures with Jordan Hulls leading the way with 17 big-time points. Victor Oladipo had 15 points, while Cody Zeller and Verdell Jones III had 14 apiece.
Kentucky game hero Christian Watford had 10 points and a team high six rebounds, and Derek Elston added four points off the bench.
Aaron Craft paced Ohio State with 16 points, while the big three of Sullinger, Thomas and Buford only combined to score 28 of the 70 Buckeye points. All three had four fouls on them.
Credit Indiana's defense as well to force Ohio State to only 49 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point land. The Buckeyes also committed 17 turnovers and 22 fouls.
Indiana will surely break into the Top 10 next week and host a Top 15 team in the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday at 9 p.m. in Assembly Hall.
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