Ohio State improved to 2-2 in conference play thanks to a balanced attack that saw five Buckeyes notch double figures in a 77-53 demolition of a stripped down Hoosier squad. Seriously, the Indiana roster is such a clunker they should consider switching to primer gray uniforms until Tom Crean's improved parts begin to arrive next season.
This one was basically over after the Buckeyes unleashed an 18-0 run midway through the first half turning a 15-10 lead into a 33-10 bulge with just over eight minutes until intermission.
Ohio State shot 4/4 from downtown and 7/10 overall while assisting on six of the seven field goals during the blitz.
The barrage of threes and excellent ball movement were themes throughout the half as OSU took a 44-28 lead into the locker room on the strength of 11/16 shooting (69%) from deep allowing the Buckeyes to assist on an amazing 15 of 16 first half field goals.
Though the Buckeyes struggled a bit defensively toward the end of the half allowing 18 points over the final seven minutes they did hold Indiana without a field goal for over eight minutes during what turned out to be the decisive 18-0 run.
Sporting the big lead, Ohio State coasted in the second half allowing Indiana to get no closer than 13 at 49-36 with the lead swelling to as many as 25 in the final minutes.
Wil Buford went off again scoring a team high 19 points on 7/15 shooting along with seven boards, three assists and two steals against zero turnovers. Buford has now reached double figures in seven of the last eight games and he's averaging 14.3 during the stretch. Equally impressive, he's turned it over just seven times in those eight contests and he continues to improve his rotational awareness on the defensive end. Big Ten Freshman of the Year?
Jon Diebler snapped out of a two game shooting slump in which he shot 4/14 with a 17 point performance - all in the first half - on 6/11 from the floor including 5/8 from downtown. Diebler's first half barrage not only fueled the big run but also offset the fact Evan Turner watched the last 13+ minutes on the pine with two fouls.
Turner still managed 13 points (4/5 FG) and five boards in a season low 23 minutes. The foul trouble is a blessing however in that Turner has logged just 29 and 23 minutes the last two games after playing at least 39 minutes in the previous four. With road tilts at Michigan and Illinois upcoming similar rest won't be available in the foreseeable future.
Even with the big nights from Buford and Diebler the clear bright spot tonight was the play of much maligned point guard Jeremie Simmons. The inconsistent juco put together a 12 point, eight assist night giving him 13 dimes in two games after recording only 10 in the previous five contests combined.
Rounding out the double digit scorers was B.J. Mullens. The big man finished with 14 points on a hot 7/8 from the floor while snatching a team high eight boards. His four turnovers weren't fun to watch but I love the confidence he's showing at the offensive end.
Even though the competition wasn't much tonight, Buckeye fans should still be excited about the improved ball movement contributing to a 54% shooting effort including 13/24 from deep. Of course, sometimes the shots just fall causing a false inflation of assists but to see that OSU assisted on 23 of 28 buckets is an amazing stat especially for a team known for standing around watching Turner try to make something happen for long stretches.
If nothing else, nearly everyone should be riding on a full tank of confidence heading into Saturday night's showdown in Ann Arbor.