|Ohio State 17-10, 8-6 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||February 26, 2008 7:00 PM ET - ESPN —— Assembly Hall Bloomington, IN||#12 Indiana 12-2, 23-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule|
OPPONENT: Things sure have changed at Indiana since they beat back Ohio State 59-53, a couple of weeks ago. A couple of Hoosier fans took offense to what I said about Kelvin Sampson in that game preview, but since they weren't one of 11W's twenty-two regular readers, they didn't know I have like "ESPN or something." It is funny how opinions can change in a matter of 48 hours. Karma bitches, karma.
However, this Hoosier team is still awesome and possesses the two best players in the Big Ten. Assembly Hall will be energized for Ohio State, Erin Andrews and the first home game for new coach Dan Dakich, as they look to keep pace with Wisconsin and Purdue for the conference lead. The Hoosiers have won 6 of 7, with a 2 point loss to Whisky as their only blemish.
Indiana still leads the conference in scoring (71.7), rebounding margin (+7.1), and FT percentage (78.1), which will make it difficult for Ohio State to come back after their patented slow start. If the Hoosiers can exploit the holes of Ohio State's zone defense again, it could be the beginning of the end for Ohio State's tourney hopes.
KEY PLAYERS: I hope D.J. White skipping practice last week during the circus-like atmosphere Kelvin created doesn't cost him the POY award, he deserves it. He bullied Ohio State in the first meeting to the tune of 21 points, 13 rebounds and is averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds in conference play. I thought he may be done after his knee injury against Sparty, but he came back for 19 and 15 in the following game. Tonight is his second to last home game for his career and you know he is pissed, so we can only hope he doesn't go for 30.
Eric Gordon will be looking for revenge on Ohio State, as they held him to 4-10 shooting in the first matchup and this will be the last time he faces the Bucks. The aspect I appreciate most about Gordon's game is his ability to get to the free throw line. He has been there 31 times over the last two games and has made 188 of 220 attempts on the season. Gordon leads the conference in scoring at 20.6 points a game and has had only one game where he has scored less than 12 points, all season.
Armon Bassett and Jordon Crawford are the young guard duo that has also helped propel Indiana. Crawford was a stat stuffer against OSU with 8 points, 6 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals and one sick spin move on the Wiggler. He went for 21 Saturday in Evanston and is averaging 10.4 a game on the season. Bassett has gone for 40 points in his last two, hitting 8 of 11 from downtown, pushing his season average up to 10.8 per game.
Jamarcus Ellis has been a great compliment to White on the glass this year, pulling down over 7 a game, chipping in with 7 points and leading the team in assists with almost 4 per. Lance Stemler, DeAndre Thomas, Mike White and Kyle Taber will round out Dakich's rotation.
NOTES: Dakich coached in 410 games as an assistant for Indiana before getting the interim tag... This is Indiana's best record since 1992-93... D.J. White has averaged 21.6 points and 18 boards when this broadcast crew does his game (someone wants him the EA interview)... They have made 130 of 163 free throws (79.8%) in the last five minutes of games this season...
BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN: 13-16 and 17-15, those were the records for OSU in the two years before Thad came in. He has raised the expectations so high, it is easy to forget the futile years Buckeye fans had to endure in recent memory. While we all know how frustrating this team has been recently, I think we may sometimes forget how frustrating it used to be.
At least this team has had chances to win and their defense is in the top ten nationally after losing 3 freshmen to the first 21 picks of the NBA draft. There is no doubt this team is completely different if Mike Conley Jr. would have stayed. He mentioned in the Dispatch Sunday that if Ron Lewis doesn't make that shot against Xavier, he would still be in school.
However, this team has played well at times this season and all is not lost. The other bubble teams across the country are also losing. A win tonight would do wonders, but they have to come out with intensity and not let the home crowd intimidate them. Hopefully their hatred will be toward Kelvin and not the fragile Buckeyes.
KEY PLAYERS: There is no word on why Jamar didn't start his 98th straight game Sunday, which is fine by me, but it is critical. At this point Jamar is either going to let it be a spark to his play and leadership or start a downward spiral the next couple of weeks. His body language Sunday seemed to show off the latter.
Kosta recorded his third straight double double against Wisconsin with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He had 18 and 9 in the first meeting, but as mentioned, was dominated by D.J. White and will be looking to score double digits in his 11th straight game. As I have said, let's hope Kosta is able to turn down millions of dollars for a second straight summer.
Evan Turner has been drawing recent raves from opposing fans, although he forgot to show up Sunday. Bob Baptist of the Dispatch thinks Turner may see the ball more in clutch scoring situations. He has a better ability of breaking down a defender and could give Ohio State a better option over the preferred launching of a three, one just has to worry about his love of turnovers.
It is tough to be positive about any other players right now, maybe Dallas Lauderdale. It has to be tearing Thad apart knowing the potential talent that's amongst Lighty, Diebler and Hunter, but for whatever reason they have not put it together consistently. Any one of the three stepping up could lead to a victory.
NOTES: Matta is still sitting at 98 victories at OSU... Wisconsin scored only 1 basket and 4 points over the last 6:24 of the game... Butler moved into 30th all time in scoring...