IU Falls To Ohio State For Third Straight Loss
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Fatigue has hit Indiana like a right to the jaw.
So did a surprisingly good Ohio State team.
A brutal schedule -- little rest, top-20 competition -- has the Hoosiers reeling with three straight losses.
Case in point – Tuesday night's 71-56 defeat at No. 17 Ohio State.
The Hoosiers (12-11 overall, 5-6 in the Big Ten) were 48 hours removed from a grueling loss to rival Purdue … and were on the road. The Buckeyes had five days since their last game -- a home loss against Penn State -- and were again home.
The continuing consequence of a compressed conference schedule to accommodate an earlier Big Ten tourney in New York City has taken a Cream 'n Crimson toll.
It showed right from the start, when IU quickly fell into a double-digit hole.
"We played a team that was ready to go," coach Archie Miller told Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer on the post-game radio show. "We were flat at the beginning. Their physicality shocked us through the first four to eight minutes. It was an uphill climb from there.
"We have to step outside ourselves. We have to keep working. The biggest thing is the physicality of the game. Sometimes we only had two to three guys in there mixing it up. That's the disappointing thing coming off of Purdue. We needed the type of intensity level again, and couldn't get it."
Shooting was a big problem. Indiana has struggled from the perimeter much of the season, but against Ohio State (19-5, 10-1), problems were everywhere you looked.
Correction – it was a problem for every Hoosier not named Juwan Morgan and Devonte Green.
You'd expect it from Morgan, a junior forward who once again played like one of the Big Ten's best players. He totaled 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He added six rebounds.
Green delivered an unexpected boost off the bench for a career-high 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, 4-for-5 from three-point range.
"(Green) played the right way," Miller told Fischer. "He had a great attitude. Coming in he was probably a little disappointed he didn't play as much in the last game. It comes down to productivity and doing the right things. He played the right way. He gave us a chance to have some bursts to keep it in contention. He was one of the few bright spots."
The rest of the Hoosiers were just 8-for-34 from the field.
IU defended well enough to force 14 turnovers while only committing eight. But the Hoosiers were out-rebounded 39-26 by the bigger, deeper Buckeyes.
"We were too slow to every 50-50 ball," Miller said. "The rebound margin shows how tough they were around the rim. They made things difficult for us, no question."
Making it the most difficult were Ohio State forwards Jaesean Tate (16 points) and Keita Bates-Diop (13 points, 13 rebounds). The Buckeyes shot 55.8 percent from the field.
IU's pre-game emphasis included making better decisions down the stretch, but it came with this directive – play hard and tough enough to be in position to win down the stretch.
The Hoosiers were against No. 3 Purdue.
They were not against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes came out shooting hot, connecting on nearly 70 percent from the field to jump to a 27-10 lead.
IU struggled with shooting and early turnovers. After 12 minutes, the Hoosiers were shooting 29.4 percent from the field with five turnovers.
Zach McRoberts was the Hoosiers' biggest early contributor with five points on 2-for-2 shooting. Morgan came on strong at the close of the first half to finish with 11 points, almost half of IU's 23.
Still, Ohio State was in control with 38 points.
The key second-half questions – could IU get the ball to Morgan more, could it ratchet up the defense, boost the offense and play to its coach's intensity level?
To jump start things, Miller started Green in the second half over Josh Newkirk.
Green capitalized on the opportunity by scoring four more points than he ever had before in a college game.
Another Hoosier highlight – freshman guard Al Durham hit his first three-pointer since Dec. 4 against Iowa.