It's been a season to forget for the Indiana Hoosiers, but they won their second straight game over a ranked foe Sunday by toppling No. 22 Ohio State, 72-64, in Assembly Hall.
After starting slow and letting Ohio State control much of the first half, the home squad got it together thanks to a blistering 21-5 run to close out the first 20 minutes.
The Buckeyes kept it close down the stretch and trimmed the deficit to just one multiple times, but Indiana led for the final 24 minutes of the game and iced it at the free-throw line late.
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell led all scorers with 20 points, while Will Sheehey's 19 points and hot shooting (8-of-12) was just too much for Ohio State.
Missed opportunities on offense were the story early on for both teams. Indiana only made one of its first eight shots and couldn't hold on to the ball early on, allowing the Buckeyes to grind out a lead for much of the first half and take the crowd out of the game.
But Indiana chipped away, getting the Assembly Hall crowd energized and impacting the game after a sluggish atmosphere early on. The Hoosiers strung together a couple stops, went on an 11-0 run and took a 23-20 lead (their first lead since 2-1).
With the Buckeyes losing their momentum quickly, tempers flared late in the first half when Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross gave IU's Austin Etherington a shove after Etherington snatched the ball away from him after Ross was fouled.
Ross received a technical and missed his two free throws from the earlier foul. Ferrell hit both free throws from Ross' technical and then nailed a three on the next possession.
That play served as a huge momentum shift but also brought back memories of Ross being ejected from a game against Northwestern back on Feb. 19. The Columbus Dispatch's Bob Baptist noted that he didn't quite learn his lesson:
Ross said he learned his lesson after technical vs. Northwestern. Clearly he did not. #buckbk— Bob Baptist (@BBaptistHoops) March 2, 2014
After committing nine first-half turnovers and trailing virtually all half, suddenly Indiana was in control with a 33-25 halftime lead thanks to an incredible 21-5 run to close the half and an unusual momentum swing.
The second half went back and forth, but when the Buckeyes went on quick scoring spurts, Indiana simply answered with a clutch three from one of the Hoosiers' sharpshooters and kept the scoreboard tilted in Indiana's favor.
Ohio State put itself back in the game thanks to Ross bouncing back from his technical, but the Buckeyes couldn't get it going from outside, clanking each of their 11 three-point attempts.
Indiana didn't miss a beat from deep, going 7-of-18, including a number of daggers in the final moments as Ohio State pulled to within a possession.
After losing to Penn State earlier this week, Ohio State has now lost two straight and hopes to turn things around next weekend against Michigan State before entering the Big Ten tournament.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: A-
Any team hoping to pull off an upset over a very talented team needs an assassin. Yogi Ferrell was just that on Sunday.
Ferrell finished with a game-high 20 points, while adding four assists and two rebounds. He was the go-to guy whenever a Hoosier three-point attempt couldn't be mustered up and typically delivered.
While Ferrell finished 5-of-14 from the field, he got to the free-throw line at will and went 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. When Indiana needed a basket, Ferrell was there and typically delivered.
He talked about the toughness of his team after the game via the Associated Press: "I think it just shows the grittiness of our team. I feel like everyone stepped up to the challenge. We just really wanted to get this win."
LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: C+
The first time Ross' emotions got the best of him this season, it didn't get in the way of an Ohio State win.
This time around, his shove of an Indiana player produced the turning point in the game.
Of course, Ross bounced back from that gaffe just about as well as anyone could have asked. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and three rebounds.
However, he ended up fouling out late. And without his technical, it's more likely Ohio State takes the lead going into the halftime break instead of falling behind by eight.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State: C
Ohio State guard Aaron Craft isn't typically counted on for a lot of offense, but his inability to score was a big problem for the Buckeyes.
Craft went just 2-of-11 from the field, finishing with seven points. He missed three of Ohio State's 11 three-point attempts on Sunday.
However, despite Craft's less than pedestrian day from the field, he finished with six rebounds, four assists and three steals—the last of which set a Big Ten record, per ESPN Stats and Information:
Aaron Craft (OSU) has 3 steals, giving him 324 in his career, tied for the most steals in Big Ten history (Bruce Douglas of Illinois).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 2, 2014
After improving to 17-12 on the season, Indiana is still very much on the outside looking in regarding the NCAA tournament. The Hoosiers close their season at home against Nebraska and on the road at Michigan.
Ohio State, loser of its last two games, drops to 22-8 and has the week off before facing No. 18 Michigan State on March 9. That will finish off the Buckeyes' regular season.