After Ohio State ended the regular season with three straight defeats, a loss in its first game in the Big Ten tournament would have quashed all hopes of earning an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
|OHIO STATE (19-13)||35||44||79|
But boosted by the return of Kaleb Wesson, the eighth-seeded Buckeyes kept their hopes alive by defeating ninth-seeded Indiana, 79-75, in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday at the United Center in Chicago.
The Buckeyes had to hold off a late push from the Hoosiers.
Ohio State pulled out to a 20-point lead with 7:30 remaining. But a 13-0 run from Indiana, which was highlighted by a vintage scoring rut from the Buckeyes, ultimately allowed the Hoosiers to cut the lead to two points in the final seconds. Ohio State didn't allow the Hoosiers to trim the deficit any further, though, and held onto the win.
|28-62 (45.2%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||27-62 (43.5%)|
|8-22 (36.4%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11-27 (40.7%)|
|15-18 (83.3%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||10-15 (66.7%)|
Not only are Ohio State's NCAA tournament hopes not dead, but the team will remain in the vast majority of most analysts predicting the field of 68. Are the Buckeyes a lock to make it? No. But their win against the Hoosiers greatly aided their chances. They'll take on Michigan State on Friday afternoon, and a win versus the Spartans would make them an absolute lock.
Wesson, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a suspension for violating athletic department policy, had 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds and was a force defensively in the paint. With Wesson's presence on offense, his teammates found more open looks, as well.
Three Ohio State players other than Wesson scored in double figures. Keyshawn Woods, who scored 10 points in the first half, had 18 points (9-of-13), seven rebounds and four assists. C.J. Jackson had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Andre Wesson added 13 points.
Indiana's Devonte Green kept his team in the game with 26 points, including a deep 3-pointer to pull the Hoosiers within two points with six seconds remaining.
The Buckeyes pulled off a season sweep of the Hoosiers with the win on Thursday. They beat Indiana, 55-52, on Feb. 10 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Next up: Ohio State will face top-seeded Michigan State at 12:30 p.m. Friday in the third round of the Big Ten tournament.
- The Buckeyes mixed up their starting five again, opening the game with C.J. Jackson, Keyshawn Woods, Musa Jallow, Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson.
- Kaleb Wesson started and played in his first game in two weeks after missing three games – all losses – due to an indefinite suspension stemming from a violation of athletic department policy.
- Ohio State opened the game by missing its first four field-goal attempts. It missed its first 11 shots against Wisconsin and went 0-for-13 to begin its prior game versus Northwestern.
- C.J. Jackson exited the game midway through the first half with a bloody nose. He reentered shortly after athletic trainer Jeff Deits tended to him.
- Keyshawn Woods, who cracked double digits just eight times in the regular season, went 5-for-5 with 10 points in the first half.