Two tough losses in two men’s sports may have ruined the start of 2009, but look on the bright side: Ohio State is sure to beat Houston Baptist (who?), and that means one thing and one thing only.
Indiana’s looming, and they look thoroughly beatable.
God, how I despise Indiana basketball. Let’s take a happy look at one of Ohio State’s best basketball victories against Indiana – February 17th, 1991.
Indiana came to Columbus having lost to Ohio State almost a month earlier in Bloomington, 93-85. Bob Knight’s Hoosiers were young, quick and athletic, and boasted rising stars like Eric Anderson, Damon Bailey and Calbert Cheaney. The Hoosiers were riding a six-game winning streak and had climbed to #4 in the polls.
Ohio State started the 1990 season with 17 straight wins, took a four-game winning streak into the matchup, and was ranked #3 in the polls. Randy Ayers’ Buckeyes had a talented, deep team. Mark Baker handled point duties, and was supported by Freshman of the Year 6’6” swingman Jim Jackson. Perry Carter took the center spot, Jamaal Brown was a potent shooting guard, and forward Chris Jent set Ohio State records for floor burns in a career.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams, but Ohio State was crippled badly – literally – when Mark Baker stepped on a player’s foot and sprained his ankle with 11:14 left. Baker was sidelined for all but one minute of the second half, Ohio State stumbled, and Indiana took a five-point lead with just a minute left in the game.
Undaunted, Ohio State rallied with four clutch free throws – two from Jamaal Brown and two from Treg Lee, and closed the lead to 77-76 with 20 seconds left in the game. Indiana’s Bailey – a player with eerie parallels to Jon Diebler1 – was fouled with 12 seconds to go, but hit only the first of his free throws. That gave Ohio State the ball with 7 seconds left.
Jim Jackson took the inbounds pass at midcourt, drove the lane and hit a beautiful, floating shot over Eric Anderson with just a second to spare, thus setting the stage for overtime.
The first overtime saw Indiana again get some breathing room. The Hoosiers had a four-point lead with 2:06 left, and led 87-83, but the Buckeyes refused to die. Back-to-back defensive stops, followed by key baskets from Perry Carter and Treg Lee tied the game. A Chris Reynolds shot at the buzzer failed to give Indiana the edge, and the teams went to a second overtime.
Round Two – Treg Lee from the Baseline
The two exhausted teams played excellent defense, resulting in a 95-95 tie with just 26 seconds left in the game. Indiana failed to take the lead when Eric Anderson’s short turnaround failed to drop, and Ohio State set up for another Jim Jackson drive to the lane. Not wanting a repeat of the ending to the regulation period, Indiana double-teamed Jackson, forcing him to look elsewhere. Sure enough, Treg Lee had slipped to the baseline, where he took a pass from Jackson and set up for a game-winning 10-foot jumper.
“That play at the end of the second overtime was designed for me,” Jackson later explained. “I got double-teamed and Treg made a smart move and cut backdoor. I saw him and hit him.”
Lee delivered, and his shot hit nothing but net. Indiana’s Pat Graham missed a desperation 40-foot heave at the buzzer, giving Ohio State a 97-95 (2OT) victory over Indiana in one of the best games ever played at St. John Arena.
“I shoot that shot every day in practice,” Lee said. “It’s a layup. Eric Anderson came over and I had to get it up there. It felt good going off the back of my hand, but they all do.”
Damon Bailey led the Hoosiers with 30 points, outscored only by Jim Jackson, who dropped 32. Perry Carter added 22 clutch points, followed by Jamaal Brown with 17 and Treg Lee with 14. Hoosier freshman Calbert Cheaney racked up 26 points before he fouled out.
Ohio State ended the year with a 27-4 record (15-3 in the Big Ten), and with a perfect 15-0 mark in Columbus. The Buckeyes ended up losing to St. John’s in the Elite 8.
1 Damon Bailey was roundly praised by Bob Knight during the recruiting process. He has a reputation for having had trouble adjusting to the college game after having been lionized as a high school legend, and was a poor pro player, but still ended up as Indiana’s sixth all-time scorer. We’ll see how Diebler pans out.